Costly loss

Gaels now play top-ranked McGill in first round of playoffs

Gaels forward Kelly Jackson (left) gets taken down from behind during a 6-4 loss to the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday night.
Gaels forward Kelly Jackson (left) gets taken down from behind during a 6-4 loss to the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday night.
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The men’s hockey team made it into the OUA playoffs with a 6-4 loss to the Nipissing Lakers in their regular season finale on Saturday night.

The team had officially secured a post-season spot when the Concordia Stingers lost 7-0 to the Carleton Ravens earlier in the day, but the Gaels blew a chance to move up to sixth place in the OUA East after losing to the Lakers at the Invista Centre.

As a result, the Gaels finish eighth in the OUA East and will have to play a best-of-three first-round playoff series against the McGill Redmen starting Wednesday at McGill.

The Redmen ended the regular season top of the OUA East at 22-4-2 and are currently ranked third in the country. They beat the Gaels 3-2 on Nov. 11 and 6-0 on Nov. 19.

“We back-doored our way in [to the playoffs],” head coach Brett Gibson said. “Now we’ve got to play the best team in the country.”

On Saturday night, Gibson made a goaltending switch halfway through the second period after starter Riley Whitlock allowed four goals in 16 shots. Backup goalie David Aime conceded a long-range goal on the first shot he faced and the Gaels trailed 5-2 heading into the third period.

Early in the third, Nipissing added another before the Gaels scored two late consolation goals.

“We didn’t even attempt to win,” Gibson said. “We played a team that travelled six hours [from North Bay] and we couldn’t even match their work ethic.”

Assistant captain Joey Derochie played his first game since Nov. 5 after recovering from a lower-body injury and scored a second-period power-play goal.

Forwards Brandon Perry, Jordan Mirwaldt and Brendan Bureau also scored for the Gaels.

“[Derochie] was the best player on the ice for us,” Gibson said. “What does that say when he’s been out for [six] months?”

Derochie missed 20 straight games after breaking his leg in practice in late November. The Journal reported he was out for the season.

“You really feel useless in the stands,” Derochie said. “I’m where I need to be to help the team out now.”

Derochie said the Gaels won’t be intimidated by the nationally-ranked Redmen on Wednesday night.

“They’re very beatable … we know we can take them down,” said Derochie.

The Gaels and the Redmen start their best-of-three series on Wednesday night in Montreal before returning to play in Kingston on Friday night at the Memorial Centre. Game three, if necessary, will take place on Sunday in Montreal.

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