Men’s hockey clinch fifth spot

Overtime loss sees Gaels clinch fifth playoff spot in the OUA East, need to win Saturday against Nipissing for home-ice advantage in the first round

Forward Payton Liske, pictured during the Gaels’ 9-5 loss to the Ryerson Rams on Jan. 30, scored Queen’s lone goal on Wednesday night at the Memorial Centre.
Forward Payton Liske, pictured during the Gaels’ 9-5 loss to the Ryerson Rams on Jan. 30, scored Queen’s lone goal on Wednesday night at the Memorial Centre.
Journal File Photo

In a midweek game at the Kingston Memorial Centre, the men’s hockey team dropped a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ryerson Rams.

The Gaels were able to clinch fifth place in the OUA East with their one point from the game. While the loss puts them out of home-ice advantage in the playoffs, if the Gaels beat Nipissing on Saturday, and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues drop both games during their double-header against the Royal Military College Paladins this weekend, the Gaels will be in fourth.

The Gaels and the Rams were both coming off confident wins coming into Wednesday night’s game. Last week, the Gaels won the Carr-Harris Cup against the Paladins and the Rams were riding a three-game winning streak.

To start the game, the Gaels didn’t match Ryerson’s intensity. With five minutes left in the opening period, Ryerson got on the board with a powerplay goal.

Forward Jordan Mirwaldt said ending the first period down a goal was due to a slow start by the Gaels.

“We came out sloppy from the get-go,” he said. “We weren’t into it for the first 50 minutes and then we finally tried to play for the last 10.”

With over 30 shots on net by each team, the goaltenders were the players to watch. Queen’s goaltender Steele De Fazio saved his team on several quality Ryerson chances throughout the game, stopping 34 shots in the loss. The winning goal, scored with 17 seconds left in overtime, was scored on a penalty shot after defenceman Ben Munroe dragged down Ryerson forward Matt Schmermund on a breakway.

Mirwaldt credited Rams’ goaltender Paul Gibson for his effectiveness in net but said he was disappointed in the Gaels’ inability to capitalize on their opportunities.

“Their goalie played well,” he said. “We’ve really just got to bear down on our chances and get back to doing the little things. It’s good that we’re getting the chances but we’ve got bear down on them.”

Forward Payton Liske scored the Gaels’ only goal midway through the third, evening the score and forcing the extra frame. The team’s late push didn’t make up for their lacklustre play in the first two periods.

“When we played, we were doing well,” Mirwaldt said. “We showed them what we could do but we dug ourselves into a hole and couldn’t get out.”

To begin overtime, head coach Brett Gibson sent out the offensively stacked line made up of forwards Liske, Mirwaldt and Joey Derochie and defenseman Ben Munroe. The three rookie forwards have scored half of the Gaels’ goals all season.

In the end, the rookies could do nothing but watch as Ryerson capitalized on their penalty shot.

“It’s a tough spot for our goaltender and it’s a tough spot for everybody,” Mirwaldt said. “Terrible way to lose—you play a great game and it’s just a terrible situation in the end there.”

The men’s hockey team hosts the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Centre to close out the regular season.

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