Hockey keeps top spot with weekend split

Gaels drop 4-1 decision to University of Toronto but defeat Carleton Ravens in 5-4 shootout in Napanee Saturday

Ryan Gibb watches a shot sail off the post last Wednesday.
Ryan Gibb watches a shot sail off the post last Wednesday.

The men’s hockey team still controls their destiny in their race for first in the division, but it won’t be as easy as they had hoped.

After a disappointing 4-1 loss to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Friday, the Gaels retook first place in the Mid-East Division with a 5-4 shootout win over the Carleton Ravens Saturday night in Napanee. The Ravens are playing their first OUA season in 33 years.

The men now have two remaining regular-season games—Saturday at Ryerson University and next Wednesday at the Royal Military College.

The Gaels allowed two power-play goals and one shorthanded goal in their loss to the Blues Friday. Toronto tied Queen’s with 25 points in the standings on the strength of one goal and two assists from Joe Rand, and two points from Mark Heatley (brother of Ottawa Senator Dany).

Jonathon Asselstine scored the Gaels’ lone goal.

Head coach Brett Gibson said the game lacked intensity given its magnitude and playoff implications.

“I thought neither team showed up,” he said. “It was a weird game with two teams in first place—there wasn’t much emotion.

“I used the analogy of two prizefighters just feeling each other out, and that’s what we did for 60 minutes.”

Having been usurped of the top spot, the Gaels returned to Napanee and pulled out a 5-4 shootout victory against the Ravens, with Pat Doyle and Asselstine scoring in the shootout for the Gaels. Asselstine’s goal was the first shootout marker scored by any Queen’s player other than Doyle this year.

Doyle and Asselstine scored the Gaels’ first two goals, with T.J. Sutter breaking his season-long goalless drought to give the Gaels a 3-0 lead midway through the first, but Carleton cut the lead to 3-2 before the end of the first.

Jon Lawrance scored the Gaels’ other goal on the power play.

Ryan Gibb played both games, making 30 saves against Toronto and allowing four goals on 39 shots against Carleton.

Captain Jeff Ovens, who missed the RMC game with an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup earlier than expected against U of T. Defenceman Pat McDonough also returned after missing seven games with an undisclosed injury.

Gibb said although the two didn’t play much, having them back was a boost.

“It’s huge. Jeff’s our captain and it’s not the same when he’s out of the lineup. … McDonough’s a big part of our defence.”

Gibb said the Carleton game wasn’t his best.

“[It] wasn’t one of my better games, I’m the first to admit that. A couple of funny bounces and it’s how the puck goes,” Gibb said. “The team rallied behind me, and being able to score four goals ourselves. … It was good to see.”

The team had two days off Sunday and Monday to recover from bumps and bruises, Gibson said.

“We have to get healthy. To win two of three with the injuries we had last week, it shows the character of my guys. This week I’m just going to work on a lot of systems and the power play in practice to get the guys feeling good about themselves.”

Queen’s will face Ryerson Saturday, on whose turf they haven’t won in three years.

“They’re probably the most improved team in the league.” Gibson said.

“The guys know what’s at stake.”

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