Gaels go 3-2 in new year with new goalie

Men’s hockey finishes weekend with a win and a loss with replacement goaltender Steele De Fazio totalling 82 saves

Forward Jeffery Johnstone attempts to manuever past a Nippissing defenceman at the Memorial Centre on Friday night.
Forward Jeffery Johnstone attempts to manuever past a Nippissing defenceman at the Memorial Centre on Friday night.
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Forward Payton Liske shoots and scores for one of the Gaels’ five goals in the win over the Lakers.
Forward Payton Liske shoots and scores for one of the Gaels’ five goals in the win over the Lakers.
Photo: 

The men’s hockey team has a new goalie, and found confidence, but only escaped last weekend with a 1-1 record.

The Gaels hosted the Nipissing Lakers on Friday at the Memorial Centre, beating them 5-2. They then travelled to Toronto to face the University of Toronto Varsity Blues the next night, but lost 4-3.

The game against the Lakers was highlighted by forward Jordan Mirwaldt’s natural hat trick. Forwards Jeffrey Johnstone and Payton Liske scored the first two goals for Queen’s. Nipissing didn’t respond until the end of the third period when they scored two goals.

Mirwaldt, who has 13 goals on the season, credited his linemates for his hat trick.

“It was mostly just the passes I was getting from my line mates. Both were good passes on the first two and then I caught a lucky break on the third one,” he said. “We’re moving the puck a little more creatively out of our own end. It gives us a chance to get going on the rush.”

The Gaels didn’t get the same breaks on Saturday night at Varsity Arena. Despite scoring chances in the final minutes of a 4-3 loss to the Blues, including a shot off the crossbar by captain Jon Lawrance, the Gaels were unable to produce an equalizer. 2010 marked the beginning of goaltender Steele De Fazio’s play with the Gaels after Mackenzie Ball’s departure.

De Fazio, who split last season playing for the OJHL’s Wellington Dukes and the St. John’s Johnnies in the NCAA, sat out four months for eligibility reasons. De Fazio made more than 100 saves in his first three games two weeks ago, including 39 saves in the Gaels’ 7-3 loss to the Blues on Jan. 8.

“It’s always different when you go from the stands to the ice,” he said. “Sitting out for four months is definitely not easy but everyone’s been contributing and we’re winning.”

The Gaels are 3-2 in the new year even though they’ve been outshot all five games. In Friday’s game against Nipissing, De Fazio made 46 saves.

Coach Brett Gibson said the goaltender transition came after Ball decided to leave the team.

“[Ball] is pursuing different avenues. He’s just moving on and retiring from hockey,” he said. “He also had a minor injury to his hip. His hip was bothering him and it was affecting his play so he had to take care of himself.”

Gibson said De Fazio’s goaltending has affected the team’s attitude.

“It gives us confidence,” he said. “I know he’s going to make the first save and that’s very important for us.”

The Gaels are one point behind the third-place Carleton Ravens in the OUA East.

“We’re riding a good high right now,” Gibson said. “I like where we’re at. Our team in the second half will dictate our pace. I don’t want to worry about other teams; I only want to worry about our team.”

—With files from Jake Edmiston

The Gaels will be back in Kingston at Royal Military College this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m to play the RMC Paladins.

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