Middle at midway mark

Gaels just over .500 through 11 games

The Gaels lost a 3-2 lead against Nipissing last Saturday, allowing the Lakers to come back for the second time in two weeks.
The Gaels lost a 3-2 lead against Nipissing last Saturday, allowing the Lakers to come back for the second time in two weeks.
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Photo: 
Queen’s top scorers are currently tied for 71st in the OUA’s scoring race.
Queen’s top scorers are currently tied for 71st in the OUA’s scoring race.
Photo: 

A win streak is hard to come by for the men’s hockey team.

Keeping with the season’s “win one, lose one” trend, the Gaels dropped a 4-3 decision at home to the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday after easily defeating the Ryerson Rams 4-1 on Thursday.

It was the second time this year that the Gaels blew a second period lead against the Lakers. Now they’re sitting at 5-4-2 for the season.

Rookie forward Taylor Clements was dissatisfied with his play, after a two-goal night which featured a top shelf backhand shot.

“As the season goes on I’m going to score more goals,” Clements said. “What I really care about is winning hockey games because that’s when the team celebrates it.”

The loss featured many of the problems that have plagued the Gaels in the first 11 games of the season: stagnant power play, blown leads and an inability to score go-ahead goals late in the game.

The Gaels’ power play unit is operating at only 14 per cent and has hurt them in several games thus far.

“Your power play’s not going to score every time — penalty kills and goalies are too good,” head coach Brett Gibson said, “but it can’t gain momentum for other teams.”

Although the Gaels play a dump and chase style that complements the physical nature of the team, they lack a goal scorer who can average a point or more per game.

Clements is tied with Jordan Mirwaldt for the team lead in points with eight, but sits only 71st in OUA scoring. Gibson doesn’t believe the team’s lack of a top goal scorer has hurt them significantly.

“I’d rather have four lines that can score than have, for example, Payton Liske two years ago who scores 19 goals and the next closest guy has eight,” he said. “That makes it very easy on teams to check us.”

Gibson rolls all four forward lines and uses all three defensive pairings. So far, it’s landed the Gaels above .500 in winning percentage — results which could be worse due to sidelined starters.

Injuries have forced the Gaels to turn to depth players. Rookie defensemen Joseph Luongo and Drew McLaughlin have dressed most games.

In total, the Gaels have started nine rookies in 2012.

“We’ve gone through a lot of injuries again [this season],” Gibson said. “That seems to be the story of the last three years but it’s allowed me to play rookies in major minutes.”

Goaltender Riley Whitlock has been a force. He’s currently second in the OUA in saves, posting a respectable 3.35 GAA and .915 save percentage.

Despite their mediocre record, the Gaels benefit from an extremely even OUA East division. In seventh place, they sit only five points behind the first place UQTR Patriotes.

Gibson believes his squad can and will climb the standings.

“We’ve won a couple games we probably shouldn’t have and we’ve lost a couple where [the other team has] squeaked in and I thought we deserved a better fate,” he said. “That’s the problem when you have a younger team but our schedule has been pretty tough.” Queen’s will head into the holiday break after visiting the Ottawa Gee-Gees (5-3-4) and the Carleton Ravens (7-4-1) this weekend.

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