Playoffs in doubt

Men’s hockey tied for final playoff spot after loss to Ryerson

After Thursday 3-2 night's loss to the Ryerson Rams, defenceman Brendan Bureau and the Gaels need to beat the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday to earn a playoff berth.
After Thursday 3-2 night's loss to the Ryerson Rams, defenceman Brendan Bureau and the Gaels need to beat the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday to earn a playoff berth.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the Ryerson Rams in Toronto, the men’s hockey team’s playoff hopes depend on the final game of the regular season.

The Gaels head into Saturday’s game tied with the Concordia Stingers for the eighth and final playoff berth in the OUA East. They host the third-place Nipissing Lakers while the Stingers play the fifth-place Carleton Ravens in Ottawa.

Both teams are tied with 28 points, but Queen’s holds the tie-break on head-to-head goal difference — if the Gaels win, they take the spot.

“We control our own destiny,” head coach Brett Gibson said after last night’s loss. “If we don’t win, we don’t deserve to be in.”

Queen’s has lost two out of three encounters with the Lakers this season, including a 4-3 shootout loss at the Memorial Centre on Jan. 20. In that game, Gaels forward Kelly Jackson scored what would have been game-winning goal in the shootout, but the official called it off.

The Lakers won the game on the next shot.

The Gaels missed a chance to seal a playoff berth last night. If they had beaten the Rams, they would have clinched a playoff spot and climbed to fifth place in the standings.

Ryerson scored the game-winning goal with just over eight minutes remaining last night, after Rams forward Greg Payne’s shot squeezed under Gaels goalie Riley Whitlock’s armpit.

“I think he’d like to have that one back,” Gibson said. “But he was great all night and kept us in it.”

Whitlock made 32 saves on the night.

After the Rams opened the scoring in the first period, forward Scott Kenway scored a shorthanded goal to tie it up. The Rams scored a second goal early in the third, but Gaels captain Jon Lawrance replied three minutes later during a power play.

“Scott Kenway and Jon Lawrance were playing like it was their last OUA hockey game,” Gibson said. “I wish I had 18 guys that played that way tonight.”

Gibson said he was proud of his players despite the loss.

“There’s not a bad team in the league,” he said. “It was just one of those [games] where you knew a goal was going to be the difference and they ended up scoring it.”

The Gaels host the Nipissing Lakers at the Invista Centre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

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