A tale of two games

Men’s hockey suffers two tough, but very different losses over the weekend

Sporting a 3-1 record coming into the weekend, the men’s hockey team now hovers at .500 after two straight losses to the Carleton Ravens and the McGill Redmen. The Gaels were on the road, travelling to Ottawa where they suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ravens and ended the weekend with a devastating 7-1 loss to the McGill Redmen.

Tight battles and low scoring characterized the game against Carleton. The first period ended with no score as both teams struggled to gain an edge. The Ravens struck first by scoring on a power play in the second period but the Gaels didn’t back down in the close 1-0 game.

Queen’s didn’t generate enough opportunities in the beginning of the game with only eight shots after the first two frames of play. They mounted an attack in the third and got a goal from forward Scott Kenway 13 minutes in. This was good enough to force overtime. Although the Gaels’ previous wins have been from either overtime or in a shootout, Carleton was able to take the game by ending overtime after 3:43.

Head coach Brett Gibson was content with his team’s effort against the Ravens.

“I thought we played really well and it’s the story of last season, both teams are evenly matched and you can flip a coin to see who is going to win,” he said. “We both know each other really well, and I thought the guys played really well on Friday night.”

He also said the season’s close games are a positive sign for the league and the team.

“It just reflects that we are right there,” he said. “The parity of the league is getting better and better … We are 3-0-1 in overtime right now so it will prepare us down the stretch, you’ve got to play in tight games.” Saturday’s game in Montreal against the McGill Redmen was anything but even. The reigning OUA champions showed the Gaels what it takes to lead the league.

The rival university scored often, with three goals in the first period alone and another four in the second. Two of the Redmen’s goals came on a power play and another two came while they were shorthanded.

Goaltender Steele De Fazio was pulled after five goals to give him a break from the barrage. McGill mercifully didn’t score in the third period leaving the score at 7-1.

Gibson said he felt that McGill’s success derives from more than just effort and skill.

“They’ve got the monopoly on the Quebec league,” he said. “All of the major junior hockey players want to go to McGill, it’s a great school. [As a result] their first line is the same as their fourth line and their first defenceman is the same as their sixth defenceman. Most teams in the league, including us, have one top line and then three grinding lines.”

The tough loss couldn’t be pegged on the play of De Fazio, who has emerged as the starting goaltender after two weeks of strong play. He gave up only a combined three goals in the three games leading up to the McGill game.

“In the last four games he has been fantastic; it is the Steele I know, the Steele that was with us in the playoffs last year,” Gibson said. “He knows what he’s capable of doing and he’s done that the last two weeks.”

The Gaels have been lacking major contribution from the team’s top scorers Payton Liske and Jordan Mirwaldt this season. So far Liske has one goal and four assists for five points, four of which came in one game. Somewhat redeeming is that he has scored in both of the team’s shootout wins. Mirwaldt has two goals and two assists in six games but all four points came in two games. Both players had 40 points in 28 games last season.

“We have a winning record right now and Payton Liske and Jordan Mirwaldt haven’t contributed that much offensively,” Gibson said. “That’s a great sign I think, that shows that we have more depth this year but when they do decide to get their games in gear we are going to be a tough team to beat.”

The Gaels will look to turn things around at home next weekend. They will face off against the McGill Redmen again on Friday at Memorial Centre. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. They will then see Carleton on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

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