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Stunning comeback gives RMC hockey victory; Queen’s gets win in Montreal

February 1, 2014


For the least penalized hockey team in the league — no, make that in Canada — it was decidedly atypical. For a team with playoff hopes flickering like a candle in a typhoon, six penalties in one period was not only uncharacteristic, it’s not recommended.

Just as unexpected as was the second-period spate of penalties, however, came the game’s conclusion: the team that has scored the fewest goals in the league scored twice in the last two and a half minutes of the third period to tie the score. Then the Royal Military College Paladins scored in overtime for a 4-3 win over the visiting Nipissing Lakers.

If you need some context for that drama, consider that 16 times in their preceding 22 Ontario University Athletics games, the Paladins scored two goals or less in the entire game.

“Once in a while the hockey gods smile on RMC,” Paladins coach Andy Shell said.

RMC, 2-18-3, now finds itself six points behind eighth-place Nipissing, with five games left to play, in their quest for the East division’s final playoff spot. The bad news is of those remaining games, three are against No. 6 Trois-Rivieres — Saturday night, at the Constantine Arena — No. 7 Carleton and formerly ranked Queen’s.

While the hockey gods may have ultimately smiled on the Paladins Friday night, there were no smiles in the RMC dressing room after the second period, one in which the Paladins took six straight penalties, two of them overlapping for a minute and 24 seconds.

In the intermission a scolding was administered.

“We took four asinine penalties and that’s not us,” Shell said. “We were selfish and we’re shorthanded as it is. That garbage is not going to work.

“To (the players’) credit, they heard the message or they decided as a group that they were going to go to work.”

After a scoreless first period, RMC scored first, when a forechecking Jake Bullen stole the puck in the corner and hit an onrushing Colin Cook, who beat Nipissing goaltender John Chartrand with a low shot.

Shortly thereafter the Paladins took a penalty, and then another, and the Lakers tied the game while enjoying a two-man advantage. Even in the scant time RMC played at even strength the puck spent most of the period in the Paladins’ zone — outshooting the home team 24-10 — and Nipissing scored twice more before the period ended, including another goal on a power play.

Finally able to play more than a minute or two at full strength, RMC slowly regained control of the game in the third period. In spite of that, the Paladins were unable to score until Shell lifted goaltender Evan DeViller for a sixth skater with just less than three minutes left in the game.

“We’re hanging on by the thinnest of margins,” Shell explained. “We needed a point. We were generating but we weren’t finishing, so what the hell? (Losing) 4-1 (instead of 3-1) doesn’t matter so you take a chance. Tonight we were rewarded.”

That happened at 17:37 when John Livingston redirected the puck between Chartrand’s legs from close in front of the net. Nipissing’s Dale Deon took a penalty shortly thereafter and Eric Louis-Seize tied the game on the ensuing power play — also with DeViller on the bench — with 71 seconds remaining in regulation time.

Louis-Seize put the rebound of a shot from the blue line by Scott McDonald into the top right corner from about 15 feet out for his fifth goal of the year.

“I just jumped on the rebound and shot it as hard as I could at the net,” Louis-Seize said. “I saw a bit of an opening (but) you’ve just got to spray and pray at that point.”

Midway through the five-minute overtime, RMC broke away 2-on-1 and Livingston fed Bullen the puck at the right side of the net, from where he tapped it past a sprawling Chartrand for the game-winning goal. It was RMC’s first win in four overtime games this year, and it came despite being outshot 49-37.

Louis-Seize — he wears No. 16 and has the Roman numeral XVI across the shoulder of his jersey instead of his name — said the second-period penalties got the Paladins in trouble, but they were also the impetus for the comeback.

“That’s why we came out hard in the third,” he said, “because they weren’t the best penalties. We were a little undisciplined but we were able to get over that adversity.”

The second-year business administration student from Rosemere, Que., said there was no secret to the comeback beyond the players reminding themselves of how they played in the first period.

“You’ve got to stay calm,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure you stay in your game … keeping the small details simple, nothing too fancy.

“You’ve just got to push through it and we did a good job of it today.”

• • •

In Montreal, the Queen’s Golden Gaels survived a third-period scare and they went on to defeat the Concordia Stingers 6-2. The win, the Gaels’ 15th in 24 games, lifted Queen’s into a third-place tie with Carleton, three points behind Trois-Rivieres and McGill, who share the East division lead.

The Gaels led 3-0 going into the final period and 4-0 when Concordia started a comeback. The Stingers got within 4-2 before Patrick McGillis scored for Queen’s to snuff the rally with just less than three minutes to play.

Six different players shared the scoring for Queen’s: Stephane Chabot, Chris Van Laren, Jordan Soquilla, Tyler Moore, McGillis and Yannick Laflamme. Moore also had two assists.

Bidding for Queen’s third shutout in the team’s last four games, goaltender Chris Clarke was perfect until 4:09 of the third period.

After suffering through a three-game losing streak in the middle of the month — during which the Gaels scored just five goals — Queen’s has now won three of its last four, scoring 15 times, the team’s most prodigious offensive display since early October.

Saturday night, the Gaels will host Nipissing at the Memorial Centre. Game time is 7:30.

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