Thunderwolves devour Gaels

Men’s hockey loses back-to-back home games to Lakehead, trails U of T by six

The Gaels came back from the winter break full of expectation and confidence but were dealt two powerful reality checks courtesy of the Lakehead Thunderwolves. Queen’s dropped back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday to the Thunder Bay team, who won 1-0 and 6-2.

The losses kept Queen’s in second place in the OUA Mid-East division, where they trail the University of Toronto Varsity Blues by six points.

Assistant coach Alyn McCauley said he was underwhelmed after Saturday afternoon’s 6-2 drumming as the Gaels played a strong game on Friday night.

“There was a lot less good out there than last night,” he said. “It’s been a real struggle all year long to score goals. … We looked a little tired, but we’ll work that out as best we can.”

Lakehead got off to a quick start on Saturday, scoring its first goal in just over a minute and not looking back, scoring another goal in the first and two per period after that.

McCauley said the second period was the worst for the team. The game went from being close at 2-1 to the beginnings of a blowout at 4-1.

“I thought the first period was here and there, but the second was a real letdown for us,” he said. “We were getting tired and making mental mistakes we hadn’t made the night before. You try to get everyone jacked to come out and score, so it doesn’t help to come out and get scored on.”

The dismal performance of the Gaels’ power play was of particular concern over both games; Queen’s went zero for four on Friday night and one for six on Saturday afternoon.

“We talked about it before and I thought we made real strides,” McCauley said. “We’ve improved, but I think, statistically, we’ve gotten worse. Our execution is great but that final part of scoring the goal, which is lacking at all points of the game, just isn’t happening.”

Gaels’ centre Clinton McCullough said the lack of consistency was the deciding factor against the Tricolour.

“We had a couple of good periods, but we need to stay strong for a good 60 minutes to win,” he said. “We need to bear down on our chances and stick to our systems to pull out the W.”

On both nights, the Gaels outshot the Thunderwolves—a rare occurrence for Queen’s men’s hockey—but they still couldn’t get the puck past Lakehead goalie Kyle Moir. McCullough said the team needs to focus on improving the quality, not the quantity of scoring opportunities.

Although they were scored on early, he said that didn’t seal a loss in the minds of the team.

“Coming out and getting scored on is a bad bounce but we were pretty focused,” he said. “I don’t feel like that deflated us that much.”

The Gaels are back in action in Waterloo next weekend.They visit the University of Waterloo Warriors on Saturday and the Laurier Golden Hawks on Sunday.

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