Penalties hurt hockey Gaels

1-8-3 team faces must-win situation after losing two to Lakehead

Last weekend, Queen’s saw first hand what national-calibre hockey looks like, losing a pair of games to last year’s national final runners-up, the Lakehead Thunderwolves, in Thunder Bay.

The Thunderwolves won both games 6-2.

Penalties were the Gaels’ undoing as seven of the Thunderwolves’ 12 goals throughout the weekend came on the power play. With the losses, the Gaels’ record drops to 1-8-3.

On Friday, Lakehead captain Jeff Richards led the way with two goals and an assist while Richard Molenaar added a goal and an assist. Ryan Maunu, Jarryd Brend and Dan Speer also tallied for Lakehead.

Cam Chapman and Blake Pronk scored for Queen’s.

The game remained scoreless until Molenaar scored with 38 seconds remaining in the first period. Lakehead had a strong second period, potting three more goals to increase their lead to 4-0 through 40 minutes.

The Gaels made it interesting with two goals early in the third, but Lakehead sealed the deal by responding with two of their own.

Gaels’ head coach Brett Gibson acknowledged the superior talent of the Lakehead team.

“They’ve got one of the top programs in the country. At this point in the year they’re a better team than us … it doesn’t mean we won’t be there in the end.” However, Gibson was quick to praise his team’s work ethic, saying he’s received nothing but total effort from day one.

Saturday’s game was déja vu for the Gaels as they were outshot 46-32 and received 48 minutes in penalties. The Thunderwolves controlled the game early, outshooting the Gaels 17-5 in the first period and quickly establishing a 2-0 lead.

Richards scored his third goal of the weekend and the 109th of his career, tying the all-time Lakehead goal-scoring record.

Queen’s goals were scored by Alex Archibald and Jaime Brock.

Gibson referred to both games as “measuring sticks” for his team.

He singled out Archibald and rookie goaltender Ryan Gibb as commendable performers.

Archibald said he was pleased to score but added, “It’s tough to say that you play well when the team loses.” He said Friday and Saturday’s games were similar.

“We had good work ethic … they just had constant pressure, and when you give a talented team that many chances, they’ll bury them,” he said.

The Gaels will need to rebound this weekend against U of T and Ryerson in order to keep their post-season hopes alive.

Gibson said he expects his team to be “ready to go to war.” “We’ve had some tough games, so these are playoff games for us.” He said his first year as head coach has been a learning experience, but he made it clear he was pleased with his players.

“I can’t say enough about the effort that’s coming from the guys,” he said.

Archibald also recognized the importance of this weekend’s games.

“This is a turning point in our season,” he said, “And we have to come out with two wins so our season doesn’t slip away.” Despite the team’s disappointing record, Gibson remains optimistic. Although the Gaels have had trouble finding success early in the season, he said, “You don’t win championships in the first half of the season; you win them in the second half.”

The Gaels play Toronto tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Ryerson Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Both games are at Jock Harty Arena.

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