Big wins, close race

Battle for third intensifies after Queen’s disposes of Concordia and Nipissing

Patrick McGillis scored in Queen’s win over Concordia on Friday.
Patrick McGillis scored in Queen’s win over Concordia on Friday.
Joey Derochie scored in Queen’s win over Nipissing on Saturday.
Joey Derochie scored in Queen’s win over Nipissing on Saturday.

Men’s hockey picked up a critical four points over the weekend to pull themselves out of fourth place.

A 6-2 victory over the Concordia Stingers (8-13-3) in Montreal and a 4-1 home win over the Nipissing Lakers (5-16-3) pushed the Gaels (16-4-5) into a tie for third place with the Carleton Ravens (18-5-1) in the OUA East division.

“For us, the big thing was coming into this weekend and not taking anything lightly,” said Gaels defenceman Chris Van Laren. “We knew we had competition and we knew we’re fighting for a [playoff] spot … we just had to come in prepared, and I think we did that and got the job done well.”

The six-goal outburst on Friday matched a season high for the Gaels, who have now reached that number three times this season.

Goaltender Chris Clarke made 24 saves for the victory, his fifth of the season in seven starts. He picked up his fourth win in a row, ending January with a .964 save percentage and 1.00 GAA through his three games played.

Van Laren, defenceman Stephane Chabot and forwards Tyler Moore, Jordan Soquila, Patrick McGillis and Yannick Laflamme scored for the Gaels.

“Too many times, especially in the first half of the season, we’d get up on top of a team and we just weren’t putting them away,” said Van Laren. “Hopefully, we can start putting some teams away in the first or second, and not so much as coast to the end but put up some insurance markers in there.”

Van Laren continued his strong play by adding two assists against Nipissing, and his three points on the weekend were tops for Queen’s. He’s now the Gaels leading points-getter on the year, with 18 points through 24 games.

Meanwhile, Moore scored for the second straight game and Corey Bureau, Alexi Pianosi and Joey Derochie all added markers for Queen’s against the Lakers.

Head coach Brett Gibson praised the veteran Van Laren, who’s emerging as a real leader for the Gaels.

“He needs to realize how good he is,” Gibson said. “We need him on the ice ― he’s a presence out there every time he’s on the ice. He’s a big part of our back end.”

Queen’s ended their season series with domination over these two opponents, defeating Concordia twice by a combined score of 10-2 and Nipissing twice by a score of 10-5.

“We got the results we wanted, which is the most important thing,” Gibson said. “We’re just trying to get better every night.”

The Gaels will play for the Carr-Harris Cup against RMC on Thursday night at the K-Rock Centre, in an annual matchup that celebrates the world’s oldest hockey rivalry.

Gibson said the Carr-Harris game is one of the biggest every season.

“It’s an opportunity to play in front of a lot of fans. For [the team], it’s real exciting,” Gibson said. “For us as a coaching staff, it’s just another way that we have to find a way to beat RMC that night.”

Following that, the Gaels conclude their regular season with a pair of games against the first-place UQTR Patriotes in what will ultimately be crucial games in determining playoff rankings.

“We want to see where we match up with them, because all roads in the playoffs go through UQTR,” Gibson said. “It gives us an opportunity this late in the season to see what it’s going to take to beat them in the playoffs.”

OUA East Standings

T1. UQTR [20-4-0] – 40 pts
T1. McGill [19-5-2] – 40 pts
T3. Carleton [18-5-1] – 37 pts
T3. Queen’s [16-4-5] – 37 pts
5. Ottawa [15-9-1] – 31 pts
6. Concordia [8-13-3] – 19 pts
7. UOIT [7-14-4] – 18 pts
8. Nipissing [5-16-3] – 13 pts
9. Laurentian [5-19-0] – 10 pts
10. RMC [2-19-3] – 7 pts

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