Gearing up for the playoffs

Men’s hockey have their best regular season of all time with 18 wins

Queen’s lost to RMC 3-2 in the Carr-Harris cup.
Queen’s lost to RMC 3-2 in the Carr-Harris cup.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

By every standard, it’s been a legendary season for the men’s hockey team. On Saturday, after beating the Carleton Ravens in overtime, the Gaels clinched a third seed playoff spot and a new program record for wins in a season with 18.

But that was the regular season. As every player, coach, and fan knows, the playoffs are a whole other beast in comparison to the regular season. Now, Queen’s is getting set to face off against the Ottawa Gee-Gees in first round OUA playoff action, with their first game at home last night.

After a back and forth affair, Queen’s was victorious in double overtime, winning 3-2. Dylan Anderson scored the deciding goal with three-minutes left to play.

Before last night’s game, head coach Brett Gibson took the time to reflect on the season the team has had. “When you break the school record for wins, you know, they’re going to go down in history, but this group of kids should really sit back at the end of the year and reflect on the success they had.”

First year forward Ted Hunt is embracing the success of this season. “Especially with the tradition of Queen’s hockey, having a hockey program for so long — to beat the win record — that’s pretty special.”

Without a doubt, Gibson and the Gaels aren’t sitting back. “In terms of me, my success is determined during the playoffs,” Gibson said. “That’s what I’m focused on and I’m real excited about this group moving forward into the playoffs.”

It’s clear that the team is just as focused. Despite having a quick turnaround with three games in six days, the Gaels are just as ready to go as ever and have high spirits.

Prior to their final game against Carleton, Gibson and players Kevin Bailie, Slater Doggett, Eric Ming and Spencer Abraham returned from Kazakhstan, where they  won bronze at the FISU games.  “Coming back and getting the win against Carleton, the morale you could see just go up,” Gibson said

Hunt agreed, saying, “everyone’s really excited, we think this could be a long playoff run and all the guys really like coming to the rink and playing hockey so it’s fun going into the final string of playoffs.”

Additionally, with the tight schedule, the Gaels’ still appear to be in mid-season form physically. “We have no injuries right now. Everyone’s in the lineup, no one’s hurt. Practices have been really competitive. I don’t think we’ve really missed a step at all,” Hunt said.

With their minds and bodies in check, the Gaels are putting all their brainpower into taking down the Gee-Gees. The Ottawa team is in their first season back from a program suspension in March 2014 following allegations that players had been involved in a sexual assault while on a team trip to Thunder Bay. The new Ottawa team has an extremely young squad, led by head coach Patrick Grandmaitre, who was hired in 2015 and tasked with rebuilding the program. 

“They’re probably the dark horse of the OUA this year, you know coming in they’re a hard working team that’s had a huge amount of success. The key of it is we can’t get outworked. We know coming in that they don’t have as much skill as us but they work extremely hard. So if we match our work ethic we should have a lot of success against them,” Gibson said.

“We’ve prepped real hard for Ottawa U, we know what they’re going to bring. The guys will be ready today after our video session and it’s up to them to execute,” Gibson said on Tuesday.

Hunt has high praise for the extremely young Ottawa team, but ultimately believes they will be able to overcome the Gee Gee’s. “We have a pretty good idea of what we’ll see. They’re a very hard working team but overall I think we’ll just have to exceed their work ethic and we’ll be fine,” said Hunt, echoing many of coach Gibson’s sentiments.

The teams split their regular season series one game apiece, with the Gaels taking the first matchup 4-2 while the Gee Gee’s took the second by a score of 6-3. 

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