Men's hockey squeezes past Concordia in first game of playoffs

Gaels 3-2, take early series lead; game 2 scheduled for Friday night in Montreal

Captain Spencer Abraham salutes after scoring the game-tying goal.
Captain Spencer Abraham salutes after scoring the game-tying goal.
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A team’s season is defined by their peak performance—and most importantly, when they reach it.
 
The men’s hockey team peaked at the perfect time on Wednesday night in their opening first round playoff game against the Concordia Stingers, winning 3-2. The victory put the Gaels up 1-0 in the best-of-three series as they head to Montreal for game two on Friday.
 
“I thought that was our best performance this year,” Head Coach Brett Gibson told The Journal following the game. 
 
After the two teams split their season series 1-1—with both games decided by a single goal—Queen’s and Concordia picked up right where they left off Wednesday at the Memorial Centre. 
 
In the first period, Concordia broke out to score the game’s first goal within four minutes of the frame ending.  It was a physical start for both teams, with players landing hard hits early. Queen’s had difficulty setting up in the Stingers’ end, as Concordia outshot the Gaels 12-9 in the opening period.
 
“I thought we were nervous to start the game, but I loved our response after going down a goal,” Gibson said.
In the second, the Gaels got on the board off a point shot from second-year defenseman Will Brown—the first of his career with Queen’s—which was sealed with a fist bump from captain and all-time defenseman points leader, Spencer Abraham.
 
Nine minutes later, Concordia capitalized on a slashing penalty by Queen’s forward Mason Kohn, putting the Stingers back up 2-1. Queen’s dusted themselves off quickly, getting another contribution from their defense—a point shot from Abraham made its way past a scrum of players in front of the net, bringing the score to 2-2 going into the final period.
 
In the third, Queen’s gained the advantage after Concordia was called for a suspect tripping call. Ten seconds into the power play, Gaels’ leading scorer Slater Doggett put home his 11th goal in as many games, giving Queen’s a 3-2 lead and, effectively, the series advantage. 
 
“Maybe we caught a break, but we capitalized on that break on the power play,” Gibson said of how his team 
finished the game. 
 
The Gaels shut the door on Concordia in the final eight minutes—goaltender Justin Fazio stopped all 17 shots that came his way in the period.
 
“I loved it,” Gibson said of his team’s overall performance. “Our motto these playoffs is one shift, one period, one game, and I thought they stayed in the moment.”
 
The Gaels’ ability to bounce back from adversity was the defining characteristic of the game, according to Gibson. 
 
“That’s what you need: it’s resiliency in the playoffs. It’s one team in front of you, and you only have to focus on one team,” he said.
 
Gibson’s game plan for Wednesday’s game was to make sure each of his lines played a Concordia line that could highlight their strengths—something he took exceptional care in executing.
 
“In the playoffs, it’s all about matchups,” he said. “I felt I coached harder than I do in the regular season, because it’s a game of inches.”
 
With a 1-0 series lead, the Gaels have a chance to move into the OUA quarterfinals with a win in Montreal on Friday night. A series victory would put them up against either the OUA second-seed Carleton Ravens (18-5-5) or UQTR Patriotes (14-11-3). Gibson said the Gaels will be looking to end the series as fast as they can.
 
“If you can end playoff series quick, it’s an advantage. You get to rest and prepare,” Gibson said, alluding to how his players will handle the next two days. “It’s just rest and reset.”

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