Hockey can’t handle McGill­

Gutsy game-two effort falls short as Queen’s finishes

McGill forward Sam Bloom celebrates a goal in a Nov. 10 game as Gaels (left to right) T.J. Sutter, Grant Horvath, Brady Morrison and Alex Archibald look on.
McGill forward Sam Bloom celebrates a goal in a Nov. 10 game as Gaels (left to right) T.J. Sutter, Grant Horvath, Brady Morrison and Alex Archibald look on.

Their best season in 25 years wasn’t enough to carry the men’s hockey team through the second round of Ontario University Athletics playoffs.

After a 6-1 thumping at the hands of the McGill Redmen Wednesday night in Napanee, the Golden Gaels refocused and went to Montreal’s McConnell Arena Friday for game two of the best-of-three series. The men allowed fewer McGill goals but still fell 2-0, ending the Gaels’ 13-win season—the most since 1983, when the team won 15 games.

Rookie forward Jon Lawrance opened scoring in Wednesday’s game with a second-period goal, but the team couldn’t sustain the drive. McGill tied the game two minutes later.

“We got some momentum going and got a little excited,” he said. “We kind of lost our composure.”

Lawrance said the Gaels tailored their game plan to undermine McGill’s strengths but couldn’t keep it up for the full 60 minutes.

“They’re a very quick team so we tried playing very passively and [tried to] slow the game down.”

He said the team had to regroup before Friday.

“We kind of realized we tried doing things one way and it didn’t work out and if we wanted to keep our season going we had to do it differently.”

The team did show a strong turnaround in game two, allowing only two goals, but never converted on scoring chances.

The Gaels were undone by McGill’s first-period goal, a short-handed effort from forward Benoit Arsenault, Lawrance said.

“We gave them too many opportunities.”

Lawrance said the goals against could be chalked up to mental errors, but he was satisfied with the series’s result nonetheless.

“In the big picture we proved we could play with them,” he said. “Any time you can make it to the second round in a league as competitive as we are, we’re pretty happy about that.”

Queen’s goalie Ryan Gibb, who made 42 saves in game two, said the team was disappointed in the losses but proud of their improvement throughout the series.

“It was a big step for our team. Had the series been best four out of seven it would have been really interesting because we were getting better and better each game we played them.

“We’re almost there. We’re almost at [McGill’s] level.”

Gibb said the Gaels’ performance in the second game may have been prompted by desperation.

“We realized that our backs were against the wall. That always brings the best out in a hockey team,” he said. “We’re really starting to develop a solid hatred for McGill and it took a couple of games to get that going.”

Gibb said the team will be aiming higher next season despite losing key players such as fifth-year captain Jeff Ovens and forward Jon Asselstine.

“We set the bar pretty high for ourselves this year; nothing less than first place in our division again and we’re looking to fight for the OUA championship.”

Head coach Brett Gibson said Ovens and Brady Olsen will be irreplaceable.

“Jeff Ovens was the ultimate captain. ... He was like a second assistant coach to me. Brady Olsen is the most talented player I’ve coached in my three years at Queen’s.”

Gibson, who will start his third year leading the bench next season, said he’s ahead in his quest to build a winning program at Queen’s.

“We’ve set a bar now, no longer are we going to be the underdogs,” he said.

“We’ve got to win a playoff round, that’s the next step along the way. I’m here to build a program, not to have a one-shot wonder.”

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