Defeat in U Sports quarterfinals ends men’s hockey’s postseason run

Loss against St. FX sends Gaels home

The men's hockey team was knocked out of the U Sports Championship with a 5-3 loss to St. FX.
The men's hockey team was knocked out of the U Sports Championship with a 5-3 loss to St. FX.
The men’s hockey team suffered a tough season-ending loss last Friday night, ending their postseason campaign just six days after hoisting their first OUA title in 38 years.
Facing off against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in Lethbridge, Alta., the Gaels lost 5-3 after an empty-net shot with 42 seconds left in the third period sealed the tricolour’s fate. 
Much to the disappointment of Head Coach Brett Gibson and his team, Queen’s was unable to recover after giving up five goals.
“It’s part of a process. You can’t win a University Cup without going through failure,” Gibson said in an interview with The Journal. “And now, [with] going to nationals, our expectations are going to change moving forward.”
Against St. FX, the Gaels came out of the gate with intensity and rhythm. 
Posting a goal just six minutes after puck-drop, fourth-year Luke Edwards put Queen’s on the board with a tip off defenseman Nevin Guy’s point shot. To the excitement of the team, Edwards snuck in a second goal just four minutes later, bringing it to 2-0.
After an additional goal by third-year Francesco Vilardi later in the frame, the Gaels seated themselves into a commanding 3-0 lead over the opposition with less than two minutes left in the period.
But, after the X-Men put up a goal before the end of the first, the tide of the game began to turn.
Cutting the lead to 3-2 after the second period, St. FX went on a three-goal unanswered tear in the third to sink the Gaels 5-3 for the game. 
Despite being unable to hold their lead and extend their national championship run further into the weekend, Gibson remained pleased in his team’s level of play.
“I think my guys gave everything they had. We had a great start with getting up 3-0, but discipline is a factor when you get into a one-and-done situation,” he said. “In a tournament like the University Cup, you have to get adjusted to the refereeing. Unfortunately, we didn’t adjust, and [St. FX] capitalized on that and their power plays.”
Gibson noted how the prospect of a national title felt for him and the rest of the team, adding after a string of successful season, the Gaels feel they belong with the best Canada has to offer.
“We’re getting more comfortable there. We’re proving to U Sports that we deserve to be mentioned as one of the top-eight programs in the country, and that adds to everything,” he said. “It adds to my recruiting strategies, it adds to my ame-planning, and it adds experience to our group.”
Knowing how hard the team worked over the course of the season, Gibson held no doubt that the Gaels deserved to be at the national tournament. He believed  the loss will only inspire them to reach the same position next year.
Looking forward, the Gaels are hoping to come back just as strong in the coming season despite losing some key veterans—including the team’s captain, Spencer Abraham, and leading scorer, Slater Doggett.
In light of the Gaels’ outstanding regular and postseason performance, Gibson believes the 10 first-year players currently on his roster will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors and continue making a name for the men’s hockey program. 
“They have big shoes to fill, but I have no doubt in my mind that they will,” he said.

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