Men’s hockey sunk by Lakers in last regular season game

Gaels lose home ice advantage, but look to soar over Ravens in first round of playoffs

Defenceman Stephane Chabot and defenceman Robert Stellick hold up Lakers’ forward Andrew Marcoux during the Gaels’ 5-4 loss last Saturday night.
Defenceman Stephane Chabot and defenceman Robert Stellick hold up Lakers’ forward Andrew Marcoux during the Gaels’ 5-4 loss last Saturday night.

Despite two late third-period goals, the men’s hockey team couldn’t overcome a three-goal deficit and concluded their regular season with a 5-4 loss to the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday night at the Kingston Memorial Centre.

Having already secured fifth place in the OUA East and a first round best-of-three playoff match up with the fourth seeded Carleton Ravens, the Gaels were focused on trying to build momentum heading into the postseason.

Rookie forward Payton Liske struck first for the Gaels, notching his team leading 20th goal of the year 1:33 into the first period. Forward Ryan Maunu responded for Nipissing with a power-play goal late in the first period after the Gaels failed to capitalize on two previous power-play attempts of their own.

Only 14 seconds into the second period, forward Sam Hopewell put Nipissing up 2-1. Hopewell added a second to his tally 41 seconds into the third period to make the score 3-2. With 6:37 left in the game, a Liske power-play goal cut Nipissing’s lead to 5-3. Gaels captain Jonathan Lawrance made it 5-4 with 1:23 to play. However the Gaels’ shooters couldn’t get an equalizer past Lakers’ netminder Billy Stone who turned away 40 shots for the win.

Gaels head coach Brett Gibson said he was unhappy with his team’s performance.

“We all play this sport to win and when you don’t give the effort that’s the outcome you get. We didn’t play desperate, we didn’t play with any intensity, and we deserved to lose.” The Gaels have only scored on one of 13 powerplay opportunities over the last two games. To beat Carleton, Gibson said that his team needs to be much more effective with the man-advantage.

“Our power play has been a momentum killer,” he said. “We have the talent. We score a ton of goals, but we’ve got to have a sense of urgency. The power play isn’t a privilege and my best players think it is right now.” The Gaels are 1-1 against Carleton this year, after the Gaels topped the Ravens 5-3 on Oct. 24 and lost 8-0 on Dec. 4.

The series’ first game was last night in Ottawa, but finished after press time.

Lawrance said he thinks the Ravens are a favourable first-round matchup for his squad.

“We tend to play pretty well against them. They’re a skilled team, they like to play physical. We have similar styles, so it all comes down to execution.” Lawrance also said the Gaels need to play better defensively.

“We’ve really clamped down defensively since the start of the year when we had a lot of five, six and seven goal games. Coming into playoffs, that’s big; they’re going to be one or two-goal games.” Rookie goaltender Steele De Fazio faced 34 shots against Nipissing on Saturday night. De Fazio ended the regular season with a 6-6 record and a .907 save percentage.

Liske, who finished fifth in the OUA scoring race, is a key part of an impressive Gaels rookie class that includes high-scoring forwards like Jordan Mirwaldt and Joey Derochie.

“I think we’ve got a great team time here this year, and were going to have a great time for the next couple years,” Liske said. “[Gibson] has done a really good job so I’m looking forward to the next few years, for sure.” See for results of last night’s game. The Gaels playoff run continues tomorrow night when they face off against the Ravens at 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Centre.

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