Rookie to fill Gaels’ goal gap

The men’s hockey team hopes Payton Liske
Image by: Tyler Ball
The men’s hockey team hopes Payton Liske

After scoring the fewest goals in the province last season, the men’s hockey team has added some much-needed firepower.

Payton Liske, head coach Brett Gibson’s recruit from the Saint John Sea Dogs, racked up 45 points last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Last year’s 12-13-3 season saw the Gaels post an OUA-low 57 goals in 28 games.

Liske is one of four Queen’s summer pickups. He will be introduced into the line-up along with former Kingston Frontenacs defenseman Stephane Chabot, along with goaltender Steel Defazio and defenseman Brian Mollory, both from the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League’s Wellington Dukes. Gibson said the acquisition of a player of Liske’s calibre was the team’s main focus during the off season.

“Number one thing was goal-scoring,” he said. “I needed to find some guys to put the puck in the net. You can’t get shut out five times in a season.”

Gibson said any player that can post numbers in the QMJHL like Liske’s 19-goal, 26-assist season are desirable ones.

“I’m one of about 28 other CIS coaches who targeted him,” he said. “He’s something we’ve lacked over the past few years.”

Liske’s is the only offensive addition the Gaels have announced thus far. The rookie is older than many of the team’s returning players. The 20-year old’s acceptance to Queen’s is prefaced with four seasons with two Canadian Hockey League clubs, the Sea Dogs and the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He also spent two years part-time at the University of New Brunswick.

Liske said his decision to come to Queen’s was made when a visit chaperoned by Brett Gibson changed his previous perception of Kingston.

“I never knew how nice of an area it is,” he said. “When I was in the OHL we played in the old Kingston Memorial Centre. You don’t get a good taste of the city.”

Liske said he hopes to find a balance between hockey and education at Queen’s. He said the switch from a 70-game season with a CHL club to the 28-game OUA season is a necessary reduction to help him cope with the full course load of Queen’s commerce.

Liske said he anticipates a change in the style of hockey, not calibre.

“It’s going to be interesting because I’ve never seen a university game,” he said. “It’s definitely not a step down, just a change in style. There’s going to be a lot of older, more mature guys than I’m used to.”

Liske said the opportunity to contribute on the ice with a young team drew him to the Gaels.

“Brett was pretty adamant about telling me I had an opportunity for ice time,” he said. “Some schools you can go in and sit for two years. I want to go right in and develop my skill.”

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