Ask men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson what he thinks about his team dropping their first two games of 2015 and you’ll get a short answer.
“I hate losing,” he said. “I’m never satisfied with losing.”
The Gaels dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to start the winter portion of their season, falling 4-3 to the Nipissing Lakers last Friday and losing 2-1 to the Carleton Ravens on Tuesday.
The losses kept Queen’s (8-8-1) back of the top five teams in the OUA East division, including Nipissing (11-7-1) and Carleton (13-4-0).
His disdain for the results notwithstanding, Gibson said there were positives in the team’s losses.
“I can appreciate the effort we put forward — my guys competed real hard,” the coach said. “Carleton’s one of the best teams in the country and we went blow-for-blow with them.”
Gibson said although his team typically doesn’t play an overly physical game, there were certain moments on Tuesday where he was impressed with their tough play.
One such moment occurred in the third period, when Gaels forward Kelly Jackson slashed Carleton player Jeff Hayes who was visibly angered and retaliated.
Though Queen’s ended up shorthanded after the incident, Gibson was content with the outcome.
“He walks a fine line, he plays with fire,” Gibson said of Jackson, whose leadership has earned him a role as one of the team’s alternate captains.
Besides the physical play, Jackson was Queen’s lone scorer in the game, and also netted a goal in the 4-3 defeat to Nipissing. Forwards Tyler Moore and Eric Ming added the other tallies in the loss to the Lakers.
Goaltender Kevin Bailie was in net both games for Queen’s, making 23 saves against Nipissing before turning away 38 of 40 shots during a rare Tuesday matchup. Bailie’s save percentage is .934 and has been the second-best mark in the OUA this season, though it’s translated to just a 6-9 record.
Although the results weren’t there for the Gaels this weekend, Gibson said he isn’t worried about the process.
“I hate our record, but I love this team,” he said. “I think this team is the most talented team that’s played at Queen’s, but winning’s hard. That’s my job to teach.” With just nine games to go in the Gaels’ season, Gibson, Jackson and the rest of the leadership group are starting to evaluate the team’s position in the standings — they currently sit sixth in the OUA East.
Jackson said it isn’t a true reflection of the team’s potential.
“We did all the right things — we took strides in the right direction,” he said. “We’re definitely underachieving, but we look inside that room and know we’re a dangerous team. We’re confident no matter who we play going into the playoffs.”
Jackson said he isn’t too fazed about the team’s prospects in road games against the York Lions tonight and the Brock Badgers tomorrow
“Our focus is to stay positive for the two-game weekend this weekend,” he said. “We’re looking for four points. If we play smart, we’re all confident.”
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