Men’s hockey snaps short losing streak with pair of wins

Gaels handily defeat Laurentian, find redemption over Concordia

Captain Spencer Abraham fending off Concordia on Saturday night at the Kingston Memorial Centre.
Captain Spencer Abraham fending off Concordia on Saturday night at the Kingston Memorial Centre.

Fresh off a pair of demoralizing losses, the men’s hockey team (17-7-0) put together two wins against the Laurentian Voyageurs (6-15-1) and Concordia Stingers (14-8-2) at home this weekend. On Friday, the Gaels beat Laurentian 3-1, and followed that up with a tight 4-3 shootout win against Concordia on Saturday.

Coming into Friday after a Wednesday night loss to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), the Gaels made the most of their quick turnaround.

Riding on the tails of back-to-back second period goals from forwards Eric Margo and Slater Doggett, the Gaels never gave up their lead. Despite allowing a late-period goal in the second, goaltender Justin Fazio’s strong play allowed Queen’s to keep their lead in the third period. With 12 saves in the final frame, the first-year goalie maintained the team’s cushion until forward Liam Dunda potted an empty net goal for a 3-1 win.

On Saturday, the Gaels aimed to distance themselves from Concordia in the OUA East standings. With just a win’s worth of points separating the two—Queen’s narrowly ahead of the Stingers—both teams faced high stakes. Further, Concordia beat Queen’s 4-3 a week earlier.

Putting their previous loss to Concordia behind them, forwards Jared Bethune and Doggett put the Gaels up 2-0 within the first three minutes of the first period. For much of the game, the Gaels appeared to be following the same script as they did the previous night, leading 3-1 going into the third period.

“We strategized to jump out on these teams,” Assistant Coach Kevin Bailie told The Journal after the team’s win against Concordia, emphasizing the importance of a quick start.

However, Concordia pulled together a strong effort in the final frame with two goals. While overtime failed to bring either team success, goals from Doggett and Francesco Vilardi in the shootout sealed Queen’s win. The Gaels’ slip-ups dictated the final period, according to Bailie, and not Concordia’s play.

“[Concordia] may have gotten more comfortable but we made some errors,” he said. “We gave them opportunities more so than they generated them.”

Bailie said the Gaels’ success this weekend gave them enormous confidence entering the final five games of the regular season.

“Something nice about the weekend was that we bent, but we didn’t break,” Bailie said. “That’s kind of been the motto of our team this year.”

Although Queen’s has a playoff spot clinched, their final five games are gearing towards earning home-ice advantage. After this weekend, they occupy second place in the OUA East, with Carleton, McGill, Concordia, UOIT, and UQTR all within five points or less.

“It’s tight. It’s so tight,” Bailie said of the divisional standings. “It’s kind of unpredictable at this point.”

In addition, the program’s 19-win record for regular season victories is in reach. They’ve broken the record in each of the past two seasons.

“Our goal at the beginning of the year was 20 wins […] and it’s something that’s seldom done in the league, but it looks good now,” Bailie said, adding the Gaels likely need to break the threshold to have home-ice advantage in the first round of the post-season.

Queen’s is on the road next weekend, where they’ll visit the Nipissing Lakers (7-16-0) and Laurentian. Though both teams hold losing records, Bailie acknowledged picking up a pair of wins won’t be a forgone conclusion.

“They’re competing with each other to make playoffs, so it’s going to be tough,” he said. “We’re just going to have to take the week for rest, rehab, and recovery, and then start looking at the video.”

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