The Queen’s Gaels took on their cross-town rivals, the Royal Military College Paladins last night at the Kingston Memorial Centre. With revenge on their minds from a 4-1 loss less than two weeks ago, the Gaels played to a solid 3-0 win in front of their largest crowd of the season.
This was no ordinary regular season game. Honouring the oldest hockey rivalry in the world, the Carr-Harris Cup has been held annually between RMC and Queen’s since 1986, honouring their 124-year-old rivalry.
Both teams were looking to gain momentum from wins and finish the season with their sights on playoff success.
The Gaels fed off the excitement of the crowd, which was split between Queen’s and RMC supporters. The battle extended beyond the ice as the Queen’s bands took on their cadet counterparts, who added to the entertainment and the playoff-like atmosphere.
Goaltender Steele De Fazio, who was in net for his first Carr-Harris Cup, was taken aback by the support of the Queen’s community.
“I was impressed,” he said. “It was nice to see a lot more people out at the rink for a change. To have the bands in it was pretty awesome too. It was exciting.”
Head coach Brett Gibson said he wants his team to experience a similar atmosphere every night they play.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “If Queen’s could come out and support this team, they’d find out this team is a fun team to watch.”
The atmosphere off the ice would not distract from the play on it. Queen’s played one of their best all-around games of the season. After experiencing a 4-1 meltdown against RMC on Jan. 20, the Gaels maintained composure in the face of a rough Paladins team and protected their goaltender.
De Fazio believed these were two huge factors that have been missing from their game and became glaring in their loss to RMC on Jan. 20.
“Staying out of the box was number one,” he said. “Secondly, I thought we played our best game defensively all season. That’s been our Achilles heel lately, the play in our own zone. The boys really played well in front of me.”
The Gaels’ composure led to a Paladins breakdown. The battle between the two teams was mainly physical with hard hits being thrown out to the enjoyment of the crowd throughout the game. With two consecutive minor penalties called on RMC late in the second, Queen’s took advantage of the Paladins’ sloppy penalty kill with goals from defenceman Ben Munroe and forward David Chubb 36 seconds apart.
The game grew increasingly hostile in the third as RMC saw their chances at a comeback slip away. Forward Jeffrey Johnstone finished the Paladins with an empty netter in the final minute.
With five wins this season, most teams would think to underestimate the Paladins. But in the four games forward Peyton Liske has played against RMC—three regular season games and a preseason game—he knows not to question the hard work and enthusiasm they bring to each game especially when it’s with their cross town rivals.
“They seem to have our number this year and for some reason, out of their four wins this year, they have two against us. We knew it was going to be a tough game for us to win. It’s teams that are battling for the playoffs. We’re battling for a position, they’re battling for a spot. We’re both desperate.”
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