Men’s hockey falls flat

Gaels lose to last-place Ryerson, look to clinch playoff berth Wednesday

Queen’s forwards Brady Olsen (27) and Billy Burke combine for a goal in a Nov. 3 game at the Kingston Memorial Centre.
Queen’s forwards Brady Olsen (27) and Billy Burke combine for a goal in a Nov. 3 game at the Kingston Memorial Centre.
Journal File Photo

The men’s hockey season is down to one game.

With an opportunity to maintain sole possession of first place in the OUA’s Mid-East Division at last-place Ryerson, the Gaels started horrendously and couldn’t catch up, losing 6-5.

Queen’s sits tied for first in the division with the University of Toronto, who beat the Royal Military College 1-0. The Gaels play RMC in the annual Carr-Harris Cup tomorrow night.

In the first period Saturday afternoon, the Gaels took 14 minutes in penalties—including a spearing double-minor to Pat Doyle and a checking-from behind game misconduct to Mike Bushby—and were outshot 14-7 as Ryerson scored three power-play goals.

Queen’s captain Jeff Ovens took a pass from Blake Pronk early in the second period to get the Gaels on the board, but the Rams responded and the period ended 4-1.

Trailing 5-1 and 6-2 in the third, the Gaels staged a valiant comeback with goals from Brady Olsen, Billy Burke, Jonathan Lawrance and another from Ovens with 20 seconds left, but fell short.

Head coach Brett Gibson said the Gaels tend to let up when playing teams with inferior records.

“It’s a disappointment, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s getting to be a trend that I don’t like—when we play down to the level of our competition.

“Personally, I was embarrassed. Anytime you have a chance to clinch a playoff spot and lose to Ryerson, there’s something wrong there.”

Gibson said the team’s undisciplined first period put them in an insurmountable hole.

“Anyone in this league can score five-on-three, and they did that twice,” he said. “They end up scoring on undisciplined penalties. That’s the way hockey is: you can kill off the good penalties but not the undisciplined ones.”

Although the Gaels’ third-period comeback may have been something to cheer about, Gibson said he was unimpressed.

“They just padded their personal stats,” he said. “They can’t be satisfied with anything. They decided to play hockey for 10 minutes. The only points I was worried about were the two points for the win.”

Forward Brady Olsen, who had a goal and two assists, agreed with his coach.

“It’s encouraging that we came back, but it’s even more disappointing to know we could’ve played that way the whole game,” he said. “It’s unacceptable, the way we’ve played to our competition’s level.”

Olsen added the team’s power play, which went one for eight on Saturday, needs to be better.

“Our puck possession isn’t that good on the power play, and I don’t think our work ethic’s high enough either,” he said. “We just need to be a bit more mentally focused.”

The Gaels fared even worse on their penalty kill, allowing four goals on six Ryerson opportunities.

Goaltender Ryan Gibb allowed four goals on 22 shots in his fourth straight start before being replaced by Brady Morrison after the second period.

Gibson said Gibb will play on Wednesday, but needs to be better.

“If we’re going to win, it’s unfortunate but he has to be our best player,” he said.

With a win in their last regular-season game at RMC and two U of T losses Queen’s can clinch first place in the division, and the all-important first-round bye.

A loss to RMC would give Queen’s no better than a second-place Mid-East finish, and could drop them all the way to sixth place in the East and out of the playoffs depending on how Ottawa, Carleton and Concordia fare in the Far East Division.

Gibson said the team had their best practice of the season Monday morning, after a players-only meeting, and appears ready to make up for Saturday’s loss.

“If you told me at the start of the season we had one game against RMC for a playoff berth, I’d take it. We know they bring the best out of us; we’d bring the best out of them.”

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