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Despite lacklustre performance, Gaels get 4-1 win over Nipissing

February 2, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Brett Gibson drew on an old hockey maxim Saturday night.

“Good teams find a way to win when they don’t play well,” the Queen’s Golden Gaels coach said after his team emerged from their Ontario University Athletics hockey game at the Memorial Centre with a 4-1 win over the Nipissing Lakers.

“And we didn’t play well.”

If you subscribe to that theory, the Gaels must be a fine team, indeed, because there were times, particularly in the third period, when they were outshot 10-3, that their play bordered on dreadful. Thankfully, the Lakers were also playing like a team that’s full value for its 5-16-3 record and they did nothing to take advantage of the home team’s malaise.

“We were exhausted,” Gibson offered. “We got home at 2:30 in the morning from Montreal and we played really well last night (in a 6-2 win over Concordia) but tonight there was just nothing.

“We’re a fast team. We’re all about speed and we played slow tonight … but we scored four goals and we won a hockey game so I should be happy.”

The win allowed Queen’s, 16-4-5, to move back into third place in the East division standings, two points ahead of idle Carleton, which has played two fewer games. Trois-Rivieres, which defeated the Royal Military College Paladins 6-2 Saturday night, and McGill, 6-2 winner over Windsor, remain tied for first place, three points ahead of Queen’s.

When you know your team is tired you don’t try to tax your players with a complicated game plan, Gibson said.

“It wasn’t x’s and o’s tonight,” he said, “because if you shut down (Grant) Toulmin and (Conor) O’Donnell on that team you should win the hockey game.

“I just talked about the big picture. (I told the players) if we win tonight and do our job in the Carr-Harris Cup, we have an opportunity to play Quebec for first place.”

After playing RMC Thursday at the K-Rock Centre, the Gaels will close their regular schedule with back-to-back games against the Patriotes, at home next Saturday and in Trois-Rivieres Feb. 14.

Saturday night, the Gaels began the game inauspiciously, surrendering a goal after just 85 seconds, much to Gibson’s dismay.

“I wasn’t happy about it but you know what? It was good because it woke us up. Our first line goes out there the next shift and we score a goal.”

It took just 26 seconds for Tyler Moore to tie the game for Queen’s.

“It was a good wakeup call,” Gibson said. “I’m glad it happened then instead of the second period. By then it might have been too late.”

Corey Bureau found the top right corner with a 45-foot slap shot in the game’s 16th minute and the Gaels led 2-1 at the end of the first period. Alex Pianosi and Joey Derochie, the latter on a power play, scored in the second period for Queen’s.

Defenceman Chris Van Laren had two assists as the Gaels won for the fourth time in their last five games.

Kevin Bailie, who’s allowed just four goals in his last three games, got the goaltending win for Queen’s, which out Nipissing 30-25.

• • •

It looked for a while like the Gaels’ best friends might prove to the Royal Military College Paladins, who jumped ahead of Trois-Rivieres with two unanswered goals in the first period at the Constantine Arena.

It didn’t last. A power-play goal in the fifth minute of the second period, and another goal 76 seconds later tied the score and the No. 6-ranked Patriotes went into the third period with a 3-2 lead. Two goals in the first four minutes of the third period — the second one a shorthanded tally — gave Trois-Rivieres a three-goal cushion they rode to a last-minute empty-net goal.

The Patriotes, who began the year by losing three of their first four games but last night won for the 13th game in a row, outshot the Paladins 49-28, including 19-10 in the third period.

Pierre-Olivier Morin led Trois-Rivieres with a season-best four-point performance that included two goals. A sophomore who twice scored 20 goals in four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior League — and played five games in the East Coast Hockey League last year — Morin has 11 goals and 20 points in 17 games this year.

Brendan Wright and John Livingston scored for RMC, which fell to 2-19-3 but retained its slim playoff hopes thanks to the Nipissing loss (six points behind with four games to play, including one against the eighth-place Lakers).

For Livingston, a rookie from St. Peters Bay, P.E.I., it was his fourth goal of the year but his second of the weekend.

Queen’s and RMC resume play Thursday in the 28th Carr-Harris Cup challenge game, 7:30 p.m.

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