Gaels shoot blanks in Kill McGill

Winger Jamie Brock was watched closely Friday night.
Winger Jamie Brock was watched closely Friday night.
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Golden Gaels men’s hockey knows well that you don’t win many hockey games when you don’t score.

The team’s offensive futility continued this weekend when the Gaels managed just one goal in a pair of weekend games. The team has netted just 18 goals in 9 games this season.

“We’ve got to find a way to score some goals,” head coach Kirk Muller said after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

On Friday, Queen’s laced up their skates for the first of two battles against McGill, continuing the historic Kill McGill rivalry. The Gaels kept it close early in front of a solid crowd at Jock Harty Arena, but as the game wore on, it became clear that the Gaels couldn’t hang in with the Redmen for the full 60 minutes.

The first break for Queen’s came before the puck even dropped, as CIS All-Star goaltender Mathieu Poitras was rested, putting backup Jean-Michel Filiatrault between the pipes for McGill. Filiatrault, who recorded a 10-save shutout in his only previous start of the season, picked up where he left off.

Just 2:22 into the first period, McGill took a lead they didn’t relinquish on a goal by defender Dave Urquhart. It was the only even-strength goal of the game, as special teams played a crucial role the rest of the way. Queen’s had several power play opportunities, but were unable to crack McGill’s aggressive, active-box penalty killing strategy.

Queen’s fell behind by a pair 3:41 into the second period when Doug Orr, nephew of NHL legend Bobby Orr, netted a powerplay goal at the side of the net. That lead carried over into the third period, where any hopes of a Queen’s comeback were quickly dashed.

Eric L’Italien scored a shorthanded goal just 1:55 in to extend the lead to three goals. Less than 90 seconds later, Charles Gauthier scored his first of two powerplay goals to make it 4-0 McGill. He added the other with 6:10 remaining.

The 5-0 score was a reflection of the way the game went. The Redmen outshot Queen’s 48-18, and the Gaels managed only two shots in the third period. Veteran Gaels goaltender Matt Kenney shouldered the loss, making 34 saves in the process.

The contest against the Gee-Gees the following night brought more of the same. Queen’s again gave up the first goal of the game 5:21 in. They responded quickly, however, when Brady Olsen scored 41 seconds later to even the score. It was Olsen’s sixth of the season, giving him three times as many goals as any other Queen’s player and putting him second in total points for the Gaels behind captain Brad Walford.

After the Gee-Gees regained the lead in the second period, things fell apart for the Gaels in the third. They took 20 minutes in penalties and gave up a goal with 1:59 remaining, stunting their chances of a comeback.

Ottawa took a cross-checking penalty with 1:36 left, giving Queen’s a powerplay. With an extra attacker and a 6-4 advantage, however, they gave up an empty net goal to round out the scoring at 4-1.

Goaltender Mike Studli, who figures to be the go-to player in the crease next season with current starter Kenney graduating, stopped 26 of 29 shots in the losing effort. He is now 0-2 on the season.

“Studli played well,” Muller said. “Defensively we’re pretty strong, our penalty kill is good, but our power play is killing us, and we’re not scoring goals.” Muller said he was not happy with the results of the weekend, which dropped Queen’s to 2-7 on the season.

“The guys, for the most, have been going pretty hard,” he said. “Tonight we were disappointed ... we’ve got to get some chemistry going.”

Muller said that there are ways the Gaels can score, even though Queen’s doesn’t have the natural offensive talent of some other teams. These include driving to the net and trying to get sticks on loose pucks to bang them in.

“I don’t think, right now, we give that extra little push to get the goals,” he said.

With 15 games remaining, the Gaels still have time to get things back on track if they can press the opposition offensively. Queen’s is still second in the OUA Mid East division, but 14th out of 16 teams overall in the OUA.

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