On the road in Montreal, the Gaels were hoping to rebound after a difficult overtime loss last weekend against Ryerson. However, with the McGill Redmen sitting at a near-perfect 13-1, the Gaels knew they had their hands full if they wanted to pull out a victory on Saturday.
The Gaels clearly looked like the underdog in the contest’s opening minutes, as the Redmen scored their first two goals 4:10 and 4:36 into the game. The Gaels, already in a 2-0 hole, knew they had to turn it around quickly if they didn’t want the game to slip away. For the next 10 minutes, the Gaels played some solid 5-on-5 hockey, keeping pace with McGill and showing that they might be back in it.
However, at 16:05, the Gaels had another defensive letdown, giving up two goals in 45 seconds. Even though Queen’s had seven power plays to McGill’s five, it was McGill who dominated not only on the scoreboard, but also on the stat sheet, outshooting the Gaels 15-6 in the first.
Coming back onto the ice in the second period, Queen’s could only hope that the puck would bounce their way if they wanted to cut into the Redmen’s 4-0 lead. The team did put forth a stronger effort, playing solid hockey and only giving up a single goal at 17:10, and keeping the game at 5-0.
However, the third period saw McGill blow the game open with two powerplay goals at 1:15 and 2:08, which pretty much sealed the eventual 8-0 victory for the Redmen.
The stat sheet suggested Queen’s was clearly outplayed and outmatched by a much better team, with McGill outshooting the Gaels 48-16 and scoring three powerplay goals in the game.
Losing 8-0 to McGill was clearly a tough loss for the Gaels, made worse by the departure of Clinton McCullough with another injury, but they knew they had to regroup and hoped to pick up a couple of points against another tough opponent, the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
The first period unfolded much like the one against McGill, as Ottawa jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the first six minutes of play. However, even after the early rattling, Queen’s settled in and played some solid even-strength hockey.
In the second, the Gaels continued their strong play, keeping pace with Ottawa for the most part, and only allowing a powerplay goal with 1:35 left in the period. Walking into the locker at the end of the period, however, Queen’s knew they needed some magic to turn their 4-0 deficit into a Golden Gaels victory.
In the third, Queen’s couldn’t keep up with the Gee-Gees, who went on to score four goals and wrap up the game with another 8-0 victory.
Even though some players expressed their disappointment with the outcome, head coach Kirk Muller took some time in practice to reflect on the weekend and on his team’s play.
Injuries have been tough on his team lately, Muller told the Journal.
“McCullough was anxious to get back in, and to lose him again after the first game was real tough,” he said. “Not having Craig Johnston was hard for us as well. The injury bug basically caught up and we had to play both games with no depth.” Muller said Queen’s was simply outplayed over the weekend.
“We couldn’t score, and when the other team was physically stronger, as this was the case, that only makes it more difficult,” he said. “We happened to play two powerhouses, and both squads were clearly stronger than us offensively.”
Muller added his team’s young age was a factor against the two high powered opponents.
“This year we suited up five first-year defencemen, which is good that our future is bright, but also means there will be some tough times as well,” he said. “Unlike other teams, we don’t have a go-to line with four strong veterans.”
Nevertheless, Muller pointed out several positives his players and fans can draw from the tough weekend.
“It is evident that we have some very talented young players, including Sam Colizza and Brady Olsen, who have shown that they will be an impact for the next few years to come,” he said. “We just have to understand that it is a simple game and you have to work for a win. We have to work on getting an identity in the league, and then start to execute and win.”
Muller finished by saying that in the season’s last regular-season game against RMC, Queen’s can only be worried about “working hard and playing with full intensity.”
The matchup against RMC will be next Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Jock Harty Arena. The Gaels not only need to win, but also need a little help from Ryerson if the Tricolour hopes to make it to the playoffs.
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