Men’s hockey swept by Gee-Gees

Team eliminated in playoff quarter-final after lacklustre series

The men’s hockey team’s season came to a heartbreaking end two weeks ago with a 1-0 loss at home to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in game two of the best-of-three quarter-final playoff series.

The winning goal came on a bad-angle shot off the stick of Gee-Gees top scorer Ben McLeod less than four minutes into the first period. McLeod is second in the country in points scored in the regular season. The Gee-Gees completed a sweep of the series, winning game one on Feb. 14 on a goal scored with four seconds remaining in regulation time.

Despite outshooting Ottawa 39- 33, the Gaels couldn’t capitalize on their scoring opportunities. Head
coach Brett Gibson commended his team’s defensive play, but said a lack of offense spelled the Gaels’ demise. “You can’t win a game when you don’t score goals,” he said. “As well as Ryan Gibb played again, we have to find ways to score goals, and it didn’t happen tonight.” Rookie goalie Ryan Gibb
continued to provide solid goaltending, including a spectacular save six minutes into the third period to keep the Gaels within one. A Gee-Gees 2-on-1 forced Gibb to dive across his crease and stop a puck with his outstretched stick. The Gaels looked inspired by the save but couldn’t muster the drive to convert a goal. As in game one, the power play continued to be a weak link for Queen’s, with the Gaels going 0-for-6 including a fruitless 90-second two-man advantage. “We have the firepower, but
that’s the way it goes.” Gibson said. “[Ottawa] didn’t score any ower-play goals either. It was
two defensive teams and one got a break.”The game was physical and chippy from the outset, and scrums after the whistle were commonplace by the third period.

Gibson said it was what he expected. “Anytime there’s a chance that one team’s going home, you’re
going to stick up for yourselves.” The loss marked the final time many Queen’s players will wear the Tricolour. Captain Brad Walford, one of the few current players who played on the last playoff team in 2003- 04, was proud of the way his team went out. “We battled really hard,” he said after the game. “It’s tough right now, but I’m really proud of the guys.

“This has been the best group that I’ve played with in my years here.” The playoff loss brought an end
to a breakthrough season for the men’s hockey program. After a slow start to the season, the men played .500 hockey to earn their first playoff berth in three years. Gibson said he just had to keep the year in perspective. “As much as this is a devastating loss, this program made a step forward this year,” he said. In his first year as head coach,Gibson established a defensive system built around Gibb and he ironed out the kinks as the season went on. The results varied; the Gaels twice upset nationally-ranked teams, but tended to play down to the level of beatable opponents.

“I’m looking into bringing some more offensive players in,” Gibson said. “But the main thing is the system that I put in place is going to work for us. We will learn, we will get better and we will step in
the right direction.” Gibson said he anticipates having a championship-calibre team in two years.
“This year was a building process. This is a three-year process, and we made the playoffs in year one, so we’ve got to be happy.” Walford agreed. “The biggest thing is the attitude of the team. Throughout my early years in this program, there was a bit of a losing mentality, but this group hated to lose. This program has some great days ahead of it.”

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