Last gasp after milestone win

Men sweep Ottawa in first round, but face must-win game after big loss to Carleton

The Gaels pulled out their first-ever playoff series victory under head coach Brett Gibson with a sweep of Ottawa last week.
The Gaels pulled out their first-ever playoff series victory under head coach Brett Gibson with a sweep of Ottawa last week.
Queen’s must win tonight at the Memorial Centre to keep the playoff hopes alive.
Queen’s must win tonight at the Memorial Centre to keep the playoff hopes alive.

Riding high after a playoff series win, men’s hockey is now on the brink of elimination.

The Gaels fell 6-2 to the Carleton Ravens in Ottawa on Wednesday night in the first game of their best-of-three second-round matchup.

The loss came just five days after Queen’s swept the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the first round — the Gaels’ first series victory since 2004 and the first of head coach Brett Gibson’s CIS career.

Gibson and his team will look to rebound tonight against Carleton in game two. Gibson said starting goaltender Kevin Bailie must improve after allowing six goals, the most he’s given up this season.

“Our best players have to be our best players,” Gibson said.

Carleton has been the Gaels’ toughest foe this season, knocking them off in two regular season games in addition to their first playoff contest. Despite being on the brink of elimination, Gibson doesn’t see his team as the underdog.

“It’s not an eighth seed against a first seed,” he said. “We’re a fourth seed playing a first seed. There are four great teams in the OUA East and I think we’re one of those teams.”

Despite Wednesday’s lopsided result, Gibson said his club played well against the country’s fifth-ranked team.

“Look at the shots after the second period,” he said. “They were only 16-12 for Carleton and we were down 4-1. That’s not typical.

“[Carleton is] built to win a national championship,” he added. “They’re deep in all positions.”

The Gaels’ two markers on the night came from defenceman Stephane Chabot and centre Taylor Clements, cutting the Ravens’ lead to 3-1 and 5-2, respectively.

Queen’s first round matchup with Ottawa had no shortage of dramatic moments. Both games saw a different hero emerge for the Gaels, who won 3-2 and 2-1.

“We learned how to win in that first series,” Gibson said.

Centre Braeden Corbeth scored the winner for game two on a wrap-around goal with 23 seconds remaining in the third period, clinching the series. Two days earlier, Chris Van Laren scored two third-period power play goals less than four minutes apart, first tying the game and then scoring the winner.

As the Gaels haven’t had much playoff success in recent history, Gibson said his most experienced players may actually be the newest to the program.

Many of the Queen’s 10 first-year players experienced success in junior hockey, and Gibson is looking to these players to be leaders moving forward.

“The playoffs are totally different than the regular season,” he said. “You can’t really describe it until you’ve been there. It’s all new to these guys.”

Game two against Carleton is tonight at 8 p.m. at the Memorial Centre. A Gaels’ win would keep their season alive and force a third and final game to be played Sunday in Ottawa.

“If that’s not enough motivation,” Gibson said, “I don’t know what is.”

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