Gaels fall to Paladins at 31st Carr-Harris Cup

'World’s oldest hockey rivalry' ends on a sour note for the Gaels

Darcy Greenaway (right) at the face-off circle in the Gaels 3-2 loss.
Darcy Greenaway (right) at the face-off circle in the Gaels 3-2 loss.
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When rivalry games are played, it brings out the best in both teams. Often, deep historical ties and bad blood boils over, with anything possible over the course of 60 minutes.

Leading up to the game, Queen’s was a for-sure favourite. Currently, Queen’s is ranked seventh in Canada, while RMC has only managed five wins on the year.

But when the final whistle had blown, RMC pulled off the improbable, beating the heavily favoured Gaels 3-2.

The 31st annual Carr-Harris Challenge Cup took place at the K-Rock centre Thursday night, celebrating the 131-year-long rivalry between the Queen’s Gaels and the RMC Paladins men’s hockey teams.

The arena was packed with over 3,000 fans – half the stands were a sea of vibrant tricolour, and the other half a little harder to see in camouflage. Local kids screamed in delight as the puck dropped and the opposing bands traded riffs from popular songs.

The first period began with fierce competition between the two teams. The gameplay was fast paced and both teams had smooth passing, quick turnovers and big hits. Particularly big hits at centre ice had fans roaring, as tensions were high without a goal halfway into the first.

The Paladins would strike first blood with a goal from Seamus McGuire at 13:17. The remainder of the period saw the Gaels have multiple comeback attempts, but shots were consistently too wide. While the Gaels had plenty of scoring chances throughout the period, when the whistle blew for the end of the first, the score was locked at 1-0.    

The second period began with a bang — the Paladins scored off a second chance attempt 33 seconds into the period. The Paladins remained dominant for the following 19 minutes of the period, shutting down each opportunity the Gaels had. The Paladins’ defence were particularly cohesive and managed to regain puck control on almost all Gaels’ attempts into their end. 

Queen’s lack of efficiency with the puck was a big factor in the game. Even on the powerplay in the second period, RMC managed to maintain control while a man down. The second period ended at 2-0 in favour of the Paladins and the Gaels were visibly frustrated as they returned to their dressing room with 20 minutes left to overcome the deficit. 

In the final period, tensions were at an all-time high. As the crowd screamed, big hits were  thrown. Through all the tension, RMC remained in control, pushing the lead to 3-0. 

But in the final moments, the Gaels seemed to wake up. Darcy Greenaway scored a beautiful backhand goal off a pass from behind the net, which got the Gaels back in the game. With 37 seconds left of play, Dylan Anderson scored the Gaels’ second goal. The Gaels pulled their goalie to try to even the game, but after a few missed chances, the whistle blew in favour of the Paladins. 

Interim head coach Tony Cimellaro said that the Gaels’ performance was “unacceptable,” regardless of the fact that the team is currently without four of their best players: Eric Ming, Slater Doggett, Spencer Abraham and starting goalie Kevin Bailie.

“It’s hard to say right now that we’re a full team — we’re not. We’re a three, four-man team and those guys aren’t on our roster right now, they’re overseas. So hopefully someone steps up and decides to take this team to the next level, but right now we’re not proving anyone wrong losing those three guys,” Cimellaro said after the game.

Cimellaro also mentioned his team’s mentality and preparation going into the game as one of the key reasons for the poor play. 

“The way we competed tonight was the same way we were practicing all week — you know it’s an embarrassing effort on our part. Any time you can come in and play a game and be shut out for 57 minutes is uncalled for, and that’s the same way guys practice. They think they’re better than what they are and they certainly are not.”

While there were many issues in the Gaels’ gameplay, Cimellaro pointed to scoring opportunities and getting to the net as the biggest ones. “It’s something we harped on for the last two weeks: we’re going to struggle to score goals but you got to do the right things to score goals. If you don’t do the right things, you’re not scoring goals, and that’s what happened tonight.”

However, Cimellaro thought there were a few players that had a good night at the K-Rock Centre. “I think probably [Darcy Greenaway]. [He] is the heart and soul, he competes, he gives his everything he’s got every night. We know that there’s a couple of kids that care in there, so we’ll build around that and regroup and go into Oshawa and look for a better result.”

 

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