Winning start for men’s hockey

Gaels defeat Paladins and Lancers; former NHL player Alyn McCauley adapts to life as a CIS assistant coach

The men’s hockey team got their season off on the right foot in a pair of exhibition games this weekend, beating the Royal Military College Paladins 4-3 in a shootout Friday and then defeating the Windsor Lancers 3-0 Saturday.

Friday’s game was a special one for the team; it was the third annual game in memory of Lou Jeffries at the arena named after him in Gananoque. Jeffries, who passed away in 2006, was a prominent figure in the Gananoque hockey community who helped develop many young players for Queen’s hockey team.

Before the game, a special ceremony was held to honour Jeffries and present an entrance scholarship in his name to Queen’s rookie forward Brandon Perry.

Queen’s and RMC were both determined to put on a show for Gananoque Friday, and the teams came out flying as soon as the puck was dropped. The Gaels got on the scoreboard first when rookie forward Scott Kenway banged home a shot from the slot on the power play.

RMC quickly tied it up, but forward Pat Doyle gave Queen’s a 2-1 lead before the Paladins responded again to even the score heading into the first intermission.

The deadlock wasn’t broken until RMC’s Paul Bradley beat Queen’s goalie Brady Morrison with a sharp-angle shot early in the third period. RMC defended valiantly and the Gaels looked sure to lose until Doyle broke in from the blue line in the last minute of the period and beat RMC’s Matt Beirnes with a 20-foot wrist shot, sending the teams to a five-minute overtime period and an eventual shootout.

Doyle and Kenway were stopped by Beirnes in the shootout, but Jon Lawrance, Matthew Hill and Blake Pronk scored to give the Gaels the win after RMC could only notch two goals on five attempts.

Pronk said his decisive shootout goal came after some prompting from Head coach Brett Gibson.

“I went on the ice, and Gibby said, ‘Be a hero, Pronk,’” he said.

Doyle said the team was eager to get a win over RMC.

“We don’t play them until Christmas, so it was nice to send a message,” he said.

Gibson said after the game the on-ice rivalry with RMC, touted as Canada’s oldest and dating back to the teams’ first game in 1885, meant that his team was more concerned with winning than they would have been in a normal exhibition game.

“I said before the game I’d play them in a street hockey game and expect to win,” he said.

The game was also special for new Gaels’ assistant coach Alyn McCauley, a former NHL player with the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. McCauley is a Gananoque native who returned to the town with his family two months ago after knee problems forced him out of the NHL. Last month, McCauley took up an assistant coach position with Queen’s at Gibson’s request; the two played together in junior hockey.

Gibson said McCauley’s NHL experience brings a lot to the program.

“It’s the credentials,” he said. “Al’s known as a very, very intellectual guy. He thinks the game at a level most people don’t and passes that on to the players.”

After the game, McCauley said he enjoyed being back in front of his hometown crowd He said it felt good to get back into the arena, despite being on the other side of the bench from his playing days.

“I’m a little bit farther back than I used to be, but I’m in my comfort zone just being there,” he said.

Queen’s followed up with a 3-0 win over the Windsor Lancers Saturday.

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