Injuries derail season

Men’s hockey team played well when healthy, but couldn’t stay competitive with key players in the stands

Riley Whitlock, Tyler Moore and the men’s hockey team couldn’t overcome a season-long injury crisis.
Riley Whitlock, Tyler Moore and the men’s hockey team couldn’t overcome a season-long injury crisis.

Men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson tried to create a playoff contender, adding four key players over the summer to a roster that had lost virtually none of its parts from 2010-11.

But the Gaels only mustered an eighth-place regular-season finish and first-round playoff exit at the hands of the top-ranked McGill Redmen — their third consecutive first-round exit — largely because of an injury bug that came in October and stayed for the whole year.

Forwards Payton Liske, Joey Derochie, Brock Ouellet and defenceman Robert Stellick were key players who missed large parts of the season — at one point, nine players were sidelined.

After a 10-1 loss to the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières in November, the Gaels hobbled into the winter break at ninth place in the OUA East. But they opened 2012 with six wins in nine games to get back into the playoff race.

With injuries still a factor, the team went on a three-game losing streak to close out the regular season. In the playoffs, the Gaels’ thin roster suffered a two-game sweep by a stacked Redmen team.

Fifth-year player and four-time captain Jon Lawrance is one of six players graduating. Even though Gibson called Lawrance “one of the greatest hockey players to play at Queen’s,” the coach should be excited about next season’s returning players.

Rookie forwards Corey Bureau and Tyler Moore and second-year winger Kelly Jackson combined for 30 of the team’s 79 goals this season. Bureau, who scored 11 goals, won the OUA East rookie of the year award. All three will be back next season.

On defence, Stellick, Stephane Chabot and Patrick McEachen will all be returning.

In goal, transfer student Riley Whitlock started 27 of 28 games and saved 757 total shots to win the OUA East Goaltender of the Year award. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Expect the men’s hockey team to have a strong 2012-13 season — if they can stay healthy.

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