Queen’s beats RMC in Men’s Hockey season opener

Gaels rout the Paladins 5-2 at the Memorial Centre

The Gaels opened their 2021-22 season with a commanding win over their rivals from across the causeway.

The Queen’s Gaels beat the RMC Paladins 5-2 on Nov. 3 to start the 2021-22 varsity men’s hockey season.

Playing at the Memorial Centre, Queen’s home facility, the Gaels outshot the Paladins 44-26 and had the lone power play goal in their victory on Wednesday night.

“I thought we had stretches where it looked like we haven’t played in two years, but I thought our top line really played well tonight. They really controlled the play,” head coach Brett Gibson said in an interview with The Journal after the game. 

After the puck drop, Queen’s took no time establishing the tone of play as Paladins goaltender Brad van Schubert was forced to make difficult saves early and often, facing 15 shots in the first period alone.

Nearing the first intermission, it was Gaels forward Josh Curtis that struck first, putting a shot past van Schubert with forwards Matthew Needham and Johnathan Yantsis assisting on the play.

Entering the second period, the Paladins increased the game’s physicality as RMC’s Cole Noble was called for tripping two minutes into the period. This was followed by a cross-checking penalty called against Ryan Smith a minute afterwards.

The Gaels responded with a penalty of their own when Johnathan Yantsis was called for slashing, setting up a four-on-four power play opportunity for both teams.

RMC capitalized this time with Noble coming out of the box, receiving a pass from Brandon Machado, and slipping it past Gaels’ goaltender Luke Richardson less than four minutes into the period to tie the game at 1-1.

Matthew Needham once more proved the difference-maker for the Gaels, however, as he scored halfway through the second to give Queen’s the lead again.

After another Paladins penalty—a holding call against Wil Murray with nearly five minutes left to play in the period—the Gaels recorded their first power play goal as forward Holden Katzalay received a pass from Johnathan Yantsis to beat van Schubert.

The Gaels gave up a goal to start the third period, as Paladins’ Mitchell Larabie put the puck past Richardson to cut the lead to one in the opening minutes of the game’s final portion.

With ten minutes left to play, Queen’s responded with defenseman Trevor Longo beating van Schubert once more with an assist from Holden Katzalay, bringing the score to 4-2.

With less than 30 second left in the game, Nolan Hutcheson scored an empty-net goal to seal the Gaels’ victory 5-2.

When asked about any necessary improvements to the team’s play, Coach Gibson was cautious, noting the overall quality of the effort of his players, but ultimately emphasized production.

“We’ve got to capitalize […] 39 shots and only four goals, we can do a better job on our chances,” Gibson said about his offense. “It’s about getting pucks deep, getting on the puck hard, and then capitalizing on them.”

Despite some of the rust, Gibson was excited about the turnout from the community along with the winning result to start off the season.

“If you watch that game tonight, you’re going to come back and that’s exciting […] With the local guys we’ve brought in recruiting-wise, there are a lot of familiar faces for the city.”

“Every time that we have people come out and you see a winning product, you’ll want to come back and watch more,” Gibson said.

The Queen’s Gaels will play against RMC again on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Constantine Arena. Puck drop will be at 2:00 p.m.

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