Gaels earn split

Queen’s falls to York in home opener, but beats UOIT

Queen’s goalie Brady Morrison snags a shot Friday against York.
Queen’s goalie Brady Morrison snags a shot Friday against York.
Supplied Photos by Michael Parkinson
Gaels’ forwards Jon Lawrance and Jeffrey Johnstone plough York defenseman Bill Siekris into the boards Friday at the Memorial Centre. The Gaels lost 3-0.
Gaels’ forwards Jon Lawrance and Jeffrey Johnstone plough York defenseman Bill Siekris into the boards Friday at the Memorial Centre. The Gaels lost 3-0.
Supplied Photo by Michael Parkinson

A 7-2 win against the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks wasn’t enough to redeem the men’s hockey team after losing its home opener 3-0 to the York Lions Friday, said head coach Brett Gibson.

“One for two’s never all right with me,” he said. “I guess you’ve got to say [Saturday’s win] was bittersweet.”

Gibson said the performance he saw against York was just as concerning as the result.

“On Friday night, we couldn’t have played worse,” he said. “I didn’t think we really showed up to the game. The effort wasn’t there, the intensity wasn’t there and [York] capitalized on their chances.”

After a lackadaisical effort, many hockey coaches would fly into a tirade in an attempt to motivate their team. Gibson took the opposite approach, though.

“I went into the rink on Saturday and I had to create an atmosphere of fun again,” he said. “These guys are students first and foremost and they play this game because they love it. I just thought by getting shut out our first two games when we were really frustrated, if I would have gotten down on them we just would have lost, so I did the complete opposite. I made it loose in the dressing room. I wanted to make them have fun again.”

The unconventional strategy paid off, kicking the Gaels’ offence into gear. Gibson said the increased offensive production came from a willingness to tip shots, bang home rebounds and crash the net, even though those strategies can exact a physical toll.

“I said, ‘If you want to score goals, you’ve got to go to those areas where you may get hurt,’” he said. “The four feet in front of the net, [former captain] Jeff Ovens made a living there last year and scored 13 goals. We’ve got to find guys that are willing to go there.”

Gibson said he was especially pleased with the efforts of Jeff Johnstone and Clinton McCullough, who netted two goals each Saturday from driving to the net.

“They went to those areas where you’re going to score goals and they were rewarded,” he said.

Gibson said he was also happy to see captain Jon Lawrance record a goal and an assist in Saturday’s game after commenting last week that Lawrance needed to get on the scoresheet.

“He’s probably the best player I’ve got,” Gibson said. “It’s not that I was being critical of him, it’s just that with Jon Lawrance, I expect more with every game he plays. He’ll get better and better as the season goes on.”

Lawrance said he was thrilled to get his first points of the season. “Any time you can help the team win it’s big, especially for someone like me who’s in a leadership role,” he said. “That’s one area of my game where I know I’ll be expected to help out.”

Lawrance said he put the pressure on himself to score long before Gibson’s comments last week.

“Coach saying that wasn’t a big surprise; I kind of expected that of myself,” he said.

Lawrance said Saturday’s win gave the Gaels a boost of confidence.

“It was one of those things where guys were starting to think about how little we’d scored,” he said. “Once we got one or two, everyone just eased up on their sticks and it came back. It’s just playing and having fun, and good things always happen once

you relax.”

Lawrance said the Gaels’ intensity proved the difference between the two games.

“Saturday, it just seemed like we had a lot more energy,” he said. “We played with more confidence, guys seemed to relax a bit more and we were making more plays. As a result, we created a lot more scoring chances and we were able to put a few in.” The Gaels travel to face the Guelph Gryphons and the Brock Badgers this weekend. Lawrance said the momentum from Saturday’s game should carry over and give them an edge.

“We came back Saturday and played well and hopefully we can build on that this weekend,” he said. “We’re confident we can go to Guelph and Brock and come out with two wins.”

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