Hockey keeps playoff hopes alive

Gaels beat first-place Toronto, lose Carr-Harris Cup 3-2 in shootout

Men’s hockey will play RMC again tomorrow night on home ice.
Men’s hockey will play RMC again tomorrow night on home ice.

Dressed in throwback uniforms and fighting for Queen’s pride, the men’s hockey team lost the annual
Carr-Harris Cup and bragging rights to the Royal Military College Paladins in a shootout Wednesday night at RMC’s Constantine Arena.

The Carr-Harris Cup is an annual game between Queen’s and RMC to honour the Carr-Harris family.
The Gaels were riding high after last week’s 2-1 victory over the first-place University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Earlier in the season, U of T defeated Queen’s 8-2 at home.

The Gaels also tied the Ryerson Rams 3-3 last weekend. The team’s play as of late has put them in a position to finish in a playoff spot for the first time in three years when they were ousted by U of T in the second round.

Queen’s is now in sole possession of second place in the Mid-East division, two points up on RMC.
Gaels head coach Brett Gibson said the team was confident going into Wednesday night’s game and satisfied coming out.

“I’m proud of them, the way they came out and played,” he said.

Though RMC won the cup in Wednesday’s game, the OUA doesn’t recognize shootouts, and both teams were awarded one point for a tie.

In last week’s games against U of T, Billy Burke and Jon Asselstine scored for Queen’s while rookie goaltender Ryan Gibb made 44 saves, including 34 in the first two periods. Toronto was coming off a victory at the Lakehead tournament, which featured some of the top teams in the country.

Head coach Brett Gibson praised his team’s defence for weathering the storm.

“Out of the 34 shots, [Toronto] only had maybe five quality chances … there were a lot of perimeter
shots because our guys played tight, sound defence,” Gibson said. On Saturday, the Gaels seemed
to experience a letdown after the previous night’s win, tying the last place Ryerson Rams 3-3 despite holding a 3-1 lead after two periods. Ryerson scored the tying goal with eight seconds left in regulation time. Andrew Gilbert, Pat Doyle and Pat McDonough scored for Queen’s, and Gibb made 35 saves.
“Ryerson is a different team at home,” forward Brady Olsen said. “We were pretty excited after the Toronto game, and maybe some guys thought it would be an easier game.” Gibson agreed.

“To beat one of the top teams in the country on Friday and take a team for granted on Saturday was a disappointment.”

One of the biggest factors in the team’s climb in the standings has been Gibb’s play. Since arriving in the fall as the number one goalie, Gibb has posted a .905 save percentage and leads the OUA in minutes played and saves.

“It gives us a lot of confidence knowing he’s back there,” Olsen said. “He’s a rookie but he doesn’t play like it.” Gibson also raved about his goalie.

“Ryan Gibb should be the OUA Rookie of the Year,” he said. “Without Ryan Gibb I don’t know where we’d be.”

Gibb, however, praised his teammates for the Toronto win. “Our defence played really well and kept them to the perimeter, so there wasn’t too much difficult work,” he said.

Olsen agreed. “There’s no way that they’ll score on him if he can see the puck, so when we play well as a team we can help him out.” Gibb downplayed the high praise from teammates and coaches. “There’s always added pressure when you’re the goalie, but it’s a team game. No matter what my team does in front of me I just do my job.”

Gibson singled out the team’s 5-1 loss to RMC on Dec. 1 as a turning point in the season. A team meeting following that game seems to have helped reverse the Gaels’ fortunes. Since then, they have three wins and two ties. “We had to make a decision after the RMC game whether we would fold up or keep fighting, and I had confidence in my leadership to make the right decision.”

Queen’s takes on RMC tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Jock Harty.

Gibson said games between the old rivals are always emotional, but he expects the second half of
the home-and-home to be a more controlled affair.

“I think Saturday when we play them again you’ll see a much more systematic, technical game.”

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