The men’s hockey team has found themselves at a crossroads with four games left in the regular season.
The Gaels have lost seven of their last eight games, with their most recent defeat coming this past Friday against the McGill Redmen in a 4-1 loss.
McGill (17-5-0) is tied for second place in the OUA East. Queen’s (9-12-1) is stuck in sixth, meanwhile, six points behind the fifth-place Nipissing Lakers (12-10-1).
“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” said Gaels head coach Brett Gibson. “We lack confidence right now.”
After a scoreless first period, McGill got on the board 30 seconds into the second, when a dumped-in puck led directly to McGill’s first marker.
“We played a great 25-second shift,” Gibson said. “A mental mistake on a misplayed puck cost us the first goal.”
Samuel Labrecque of the Redmen took over about 10 minutes later. Labrecque scored three consecutive goals in seven minutes and 30 seconds to put the game out of reach at 4-0.
Brett Foy scored the lone Queen’s goal late in the third.
“We played a good game for 40 minutes or so,” Gibson said. “That eight-minute stretch killed us.”
While he feels his team has potential to be one of the better programs in the OUA, Gibson said they’re still a step behind perennial contenders like McGill.
“They do everything better than us at this point,” he said. “You see acts of brilliance from us, but we don’t have the consistency we’d like.”
Gaels goaltender Kevin Bailie was pulled following the second period, after allowing four goals on 20 shots.
Gibson pointed to his team last season — who lost just six games in regulation all year — as a benchmark for this team’s potential.
“We have a young team, but a lot of guys were on that roster last year,” he said. “We just haven’t been executing like we can.”
Gibson noted that he’s constantly been tweaking the roster, looking for the combination of the hardest working players on a consistent basis.
“If we don’t learn how to play, we’ll be bounced in the playoffs in two games.”
The Gaels return to action Tuesday night when they host the seventh-place UOIT Ridgebacks (9-13-1), who Queen’s defeated 2-1 in the second game of the season.
Both teams come into the game with 19 points, but Queen’s has the advantage, having played one less game.
“If we win, we’ll have the upper hand on them heading into the final few games,” Gibson said. “You don’t need much more motivation than that. Will’s going to beat skill.”
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