Queen’s was back in action this past weekend in the Limestone City, and the Gaels played a hard-fought pair of games to clinch a playoff spot.
The men’s hockey team swept their weekend, earning wins over the nationally-ranked University of Ottawa Gee-Gees as well as their rivals across the Causeway, the RMC Paladins.
Saturday night’s action at the Memorial Centre saw the Gaels hosting the Gee-Gees. The Gee-Gees have been a dominant force in OUA Hockey since their return to the league, and they currently sit third in the OUA East.
This season, the Gee-Gees are averaging 3.32 goals per game, which is no surprise considering the sheer volume of their shooting—Ottawa leads the league in shots taken, averaging an astonishing 40.36 shots per game.
The Gee-Gees’ ability to apply pressure and play aggressive offensive hockey would prove to be a challenge for the Gaels.
The first period of play was relatively tame, with neither team scoring. It was evident early on that the Gee-Gees were going to try and use speed and offence to win this game.
The Gaels adjusted well and played solid defensive hockey throughout the second. After battling back and forth all period long, the Gaels were awarded the only power play of the game when Ottawa was assessed a tripping minor late in the frame.
However, Ottawa boasts the best penalty killing unit in the OUA, killing them at the superlative rate of 89.2 per cent, and they stymied the Gaels this time.
Five-on-five hockey resumed, and with just over one minute remaining in the second period of play, the deadlock was broken. Ottawa’s Marc Beckstead fired a shot past Gaels’ netminder Luke Richardson, and the Gee-Gees were up 1-0.
To start the third period, the Gaels were putting on pressure, attempting to beat Ottawa at their own game. The strategy paid off, and just 27 seconds into the third, Eric Margo was able to find the back of the net on assists from Alex Rowe and William Brown.
The game wouldn’t remain tied for long though. Midway through the third period, the Gee-Gees’ high-octane offence was able to provide them with another scoring opportunity, which they took full advantage of.
This time it was Connor Sills scoring his ninth goal of the season to give Ottawa a one-goal lead.
Queen’s, now desperate and down a goal with under five minutes to play, started to pour the pressure on. Using hard forechecking and smart defensive play, the Gaels were able to create turnovers and slow down Ottawa’s place of play.
Then, with four minutes left in the game, Patrick Sanvido set up Eric Margo, who came through for the Gaels again to send the game to overtime.
Neither team could end it in overtime, so the game was to be decided in a shootout.
After his third-period heroics, Eric Margo was the first shooter for the Gaels. Margo came up empty in his attempt, and so did everyone after him. In a goaltending duel, seven rounds of shooters came up blank before Duncan Campbell was called on for the Gaels for their eighth attempt.
Picking the puck up at centre ice, Campbell swooped towards the Gee-Gees’ net, made a quick move, and sent a snapshot past Ottawa’s Graham Hunt to win the game.
On Sunday evening, the Gaels travelled an onerous 10 minutes to RMC’s Constantine Arena to take on the Paladins in a tune-up for next Thursday’s Carr-Harris Cup.
Although the Paladins are in second-last in the OUA, the rivalry between the Gaels and Paladins always provides competitive matchups.
Just over eight minutes into the first period of play, Matthew Hotchkiss netted his seventh goal of the season to give Queen’s the advantage. In spite of a spate of penalties, the Tri-Colour got out of the period with a one-goal lead.
The Gaels started the second period firing on all cylinders. Just over two minutes in, Jaren Burke made up for an earlier penalty by beating RMC goalie Brad Van Schubert for his third goal of the season.
20 seconds after the Burke goal, Queen’s Luke Edwards beat Van Schubert to make it 3-0.
The Paladins scored their first goal of the game midway into the third, but by that point, it was too little, too late. An empty net goal later, and the Gaels skated out of Constantine Arena with a 4-1 win.
The Gaels have four games remaining before the playoffs. This weekend, the Gaels will host the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks and the Carleton Ravens.
On Thursday, the Gaels are once again pitted against the RMC Paladins in the annual Carr-Harris Cup at the Leon’s Centre in downtown Kingston. The Gaels will then host the Gee-Gees again in their final game of the OUA regular season.
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