Queen’s climbing towards playoffs

Forwards Payton Liske and Jordan Mirwaldt collect six points over the weekend

Goaltender David Aime makes a save against the UQTR Patriotes on Nov. 12 Aime was in net in the Gaels’ 6-2 against the Ryerson Rams.
Goaltender David Aime makes a save against the UQTR Patriotes on Nov. 12 Aime was in net in the Gaels’ 6-2 against the Ryerson Rams.
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Some familiar names topped the score sheets in the last week as the Gaels picked up two important wins over their OUA competitors. The action started with a tough 6-2 loss against the Ryerson Rams on Thursday but the team bounced back to take a 5-4 overtime win against the Toronto Varsity Blues the next day and a 4-2 win against the RMC Paladins on Tuesday night.

The match against Ryerson was much closer than the score suggested but the Gaels would ultimately fail to capitalize on their chances. Queen’s forward Daniel Mandel opened things up four minutes into the first to put the Gaels up 1-0. Ryerson scored twice in response to take a 2-1 lead heading to the locker room.

Forward Jordan Soquila scored early in the second to knot things up, but Ryerson would once again enjoy the last laugh of the period to take a 3-2 lead into the third frame.

The third period ended up being all Ryerson as they broke away with a goal 6:35 in and then closed out the match with two empty netters.

Head coach Brett Gibson said that the Gaels could only blame themselves.

“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” he said. “We sort of just let them stay around and hang in there. Then one weak goal was scored [by them] and we lost momentum.”

Luckily a Friday game gave the Gaels the opportunity they needed to turn things back on the right track, but with both of their previous games against Toronto going to overtime, the game wasn’t set to be an easy one.

The situation looked daunting for the Gaels early on as Toronto took a 2-0 lead at the beginning of the second. However, they had trailed the Blues by two in their last matchup and ir ended as a win for Queen’s.

With the thought of missing the playoffs beginning to loom for the seventh place Gaels, forward Payton Liske scored a pivotal response goal on the power play. Toronto remained undeterred, scoring once again in the third to take a comfortable 3-1 lead.

But the Gaels offence would not be denied either; Mirwaldt, Liske and forward Alexi Pianosi all scored to swing a 4-3 lead over to the Blues. A late Toronto goal forced the third overtime matchup between the two teams.

Forward Jonathon Lawrance potted his sixth of the season 4:23 into the period to give the Gaels the two points they desperately needed after the loss to Ryerson. The Tuesday night match against RMC provided a good result but lacked the effort of the Toronto game. Struggling with injuries, RMC was only able to start 13 skaters.

Despite this, they were able to give the Gaels a game. The score was only 2-1 Queen’s until the end of the second when Liske broke the game open. He would also score again to begin the third and guarantee the Gaels a 4-2 win. Gibson said his team needed to put in a better effort.

“I wasn’t happy at all [with the game],” he said. “I was only happy about the result. I didn’t think we played well at all. We played at their level. They only came with 13 players and played real hard. We had a lot of passengers.”

The weekend was highlighted by the big play of Payton Liske and Jordan Mirwaldt, who each registered a total of six points. The two forwards were the Gaels’ co-point leaders in the 2009-10 campaign but have been slowed down by nagging injuries in the first half of the season.

Both players had 40 points in 28 games last season. Thus far, Mirwaldt has 20 points in 19 games and Liske has only 15 points in 13 games.

On the back-end of the ice, the goaltenders continued to struggle. David Aime only stopped 25 of 30 against Ryerson and Steele De Fazio stopped 34 of 38 against Toronto and 17 of 19 against RMC. Both goalies are below a .900 save percentage on the season. Steele holds 3.71 goals against average and Aime a 4.64. Both Steele and Aime are in the bottom ten for goals against average in the OUA.

Team captain Lawrance said that the team’s mentality remains positive.

“We’ve been building ever since Christmas,” he said. “We are ready to make a run at it. Right now we are somewhere between struggling to make the playoffs or making a run at third, fourth or fifth. We are looking to shoot for the four spot.”

After suffering a tough six-game losing streak in 2010, the Gaels will need all of their offensive and defensive talents to turn things around. A 4-2 start to the New Year is a good first step.

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