Men’s hockey picks up two wins

Victories over Rams and Varsity Blues move Gaels closer to a playoff spot

Gaels’ forward David Chubb tries to fight off a hook from Ryerson’s Peter Drikos Friday night. Queen’s beat the Rams 4-3.
Gaels’ forward David Chubb tries to fight off a hook from Ryerson’s Peter Drikos Friday night. Queen’s beat the Rams 4-3.
Queen’s forward T.J. Sutter hits Ryerson’s Michael Paolo Friday night at the Memorial Centre. The Gaels won 4-3.
Queen’s forward T.J. Sutter hits Ryerson’s Michael Paolo Friday night at the Memorial Centre. The Gaels won 4-3.

The men’s hockey team recovered its missing offence this weekend in wins over the Ryerson Rams and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Going into the weekend’s matches, the Gaels had just 38 goals in 22 games, but they pulled out some firepower to beat Ryerson 4-3 Friday and defeat the Varsity Blues 5-4 in a shootout Saturday.

Forward Billy Burke recorded four goals for the Gaels over the weekend. After Friday’s game, he said the win over Ryerson was a vital one for the team.

“It’s a huge game for us to keep our playoff hopes alive,” he said.

Burke said the team is finding its feet at just the right time.

“We have a lot of skill on our team,” he said. “We’ve had a bit of a difficult schedule, but now hopefully we’ve got some confidence and some swagger that we can carry through for the rest of the season.”

Ryerson opened the scoring midway through the first period with a goal from Alex Sharpe, but David Chubb responded for Queen’s to make it 1-1 at the intermission. An offensive flurry followed, with both teams adding two more goals in the second period. The game was stalemated until an unusual play late in the third period; Burke tried a centring pass and a Ryerson defenceman swept the puck into his own net, giving the Gaels the win.

Burke said he was happy to see the team pull out a close victory, something they’ve struggled with this year.

“It was nice that we got a bounce like that for once,” he said. “It was great that we were able to win a close game and get a goal in the third period instead of the other way around.”

Chubb said it was the team’s physical play that made the difference. He said the Gaels are in a tough position. They trail the Ottawa Gee-Gees by three points for the final playoff spot, and they only have four games to go.

Chubb said the pressure to make a run towards the playoffs has resulted in a better effort from the team.

“We’re playing for our lives,” he said. “If we keep playing the way we’re playing, I think we’re going to do it.”

A more fearsome opponent arrived at the Memorial Centre Saturday in the 12-9-3 University of Toronto Varsity Blues. They took the lead early on with a goal from Kyle Ventura, but Burke responded with a late goal to tie the game going into the first intermission. Scott Kenway gave the Gaels a 2-1 lead in the second before the Blues responded with two quick goals. Burke and Jeffrey Johnstone added goals before the end of the second period to give Queen’s a 4-3 lead.

It looked like the Gaels would hang on for a regulation-time win, but Brock Ouellet took a late penalty and the Blues tied the game with less than a minute to play. Queen’s hung on through overtime and won in a shootout thanks to three saves from Brady Morrison and a shootout goal from Chubb.

Third-year forward Pat Doyle said the win was historic.

“I think that’s the first three-game win streak since I’ve been here,” he said. “It feels amazing.”

He said the recent results are thanks to the Gaels’ faith in themselves.

“Hockey is 100 per cent confidence,” he said. “When the puck’s going in, it’s going in off anything.”

Head coach Brett Gibson said he was thrilled with the weekend’s results.

“I’m ecstatic, actually,” Gibson said Saturday. “We’re a skeleton lineup, but every guy gave their heart tonight and that’s all I ask them is to come out and compete. I had guys doing things I hadn’t seen them do all season.”

Gibson said it was even more impressive to come out with two wins considering the Gaels’ extensive injury list. The Gaels went into the weekend missing defenceman Mike Bushby and forwards Matt Hill and Clinton McCullough. They lost captain Jon Lawrance to a potentially season- ending MCL tear Friday.

Gibson said Lawrance will be a tough loss for the team.

“He’s everything for this team,” he said. “He and Brady Morrison, they’re what makes this team tick.”

Gibson said he’s pleased to see others like Burke stepping up, though.

“What it does is it gives us an opportunity to see the leadership skills of Billy Burke,” he said. “In the last two games, Billy Burke has arguably played the best hockey of his career.”

The Gaels play the Carleton Ravens in Ottawa tonight. See Friday’s paper for the story.

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