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RMC upsets Queen’s in Carr-Harris hockey game

February 7, 2014


Any conversation about the Carr-Harris Cup hockey game Thursday night starts — and maybe ends — with Royal Military College Paladins goaltender Evan Deviller.

“We don’t win,” RMC coach Adam Shell said, “if he doesn’t play like that.”

Deviller made 52 saves, 19 of them in the third period, to lead the Paladins to a 2-1 win over the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the 28th annual Carr-Harris game. A Rogers K-Rock Centre crowd of 2,230 watched RMC’s first series win in seven years.

Queen’s now leads the series 17-9-2.

More importantly than that, however, the victory moved the Paladins to within four points of eighth place and the final playoff spot in the East division of Ontario University Athletics. In losing to a team that had won just two of its first 24 games, Queen’s, which entered the game with its sights set on challenging for first place over the final 10 days of the regular schedule, is likely doomed to finishing fourth, a bitter pill for a team that was in first place in the division less than a month ago.

Limited to just eight games this year by knee and spleen injuries, Kyle Phillips scored his fourth goal of the year with less than three minutes to play in the third period to break a 1-1 tie that had existed since the game’s 19th minute.

A goal at that point would have been moot, however, had it not been for the outstanding goaltending of Deviller.

“Unbelievable,” Phillips said of Deviller’s performance. “I can’t even explain it. The number of shots he gets in a night? It’s unbelievable.”

Among the stops Deviller made in the third period were a couple of sparkling saves, against Blair Wentworth — a glove save on a rebound as Deviller flew to his right across the crease to snag a shot labelled for the open side of the net — and Jordan Soquila — a pad save on a clear 30-foot shot with about four minutes to go.

RMC was clearly on the ropes and Phillips said a tired team draws inspiration from such saves.

“It picks you up,” Phillips said. “They doubled us up in shots and you see him diving across for a glove save? You’ve got to do something. It’s just an unwritten code that if your goalie keeps you in the game you’ve got to do something for him.”

A second-year player from Sackville, N.B., Deviller took over as RMC’s No. 1 goaltender in January.

“Paul Dorsey was supposed to be our No. 1 but he had some things happen and Ev’s slowly started to take over,” Shell said. “He had a good preseason but struggled a bit in the first half … but since we came back from Christmas and the job’s been his, he’s been outstanding.

“Makes you wonder why the coach didn’t put him in earlier.”

At least it makes one curious about how a fellow who before Christmas was 0-5, with a 7.25 goals-against average and a .852 save percentage, could be 3-4 since then with a 3.39 goals-against average while stopping 93 per cent of the 341 shots he’s faced.

(For those scoring at home, that’s an average of 48.7 shots per game in those seven contests, four of which have been against teams that have been nationally ranked this year.)

“The one soft goal,” is how Shell describes the difference in Deviller’s game. “He’s not giving that up, and the one good thing about him is if he does, he comes back and doesn’t give up another one. He’s really shut the door. He knows it’s his job now. He’s confident.”

It couldn’t be happening to a nicer fellow, Shell said.

“First of all he’s a great human,” the coach said. “He smiles all the time. Nothing bothers him. He’s intense, he competes, but he doesn’t have the typical background, he didn’t play major junior, he didn’t really play junior.

“He came to school early and between him and our goalie coach, Thomas Connerty, they worked and worked and worked. The guys love playing for him because he battles. It’s not always clean but he’s such a good athlete … and his game’s gotten better.”

For the Gaels, a team that has lost five of its last nine games, it was a crushing defeat, one coach Brett Gibson described as an “absolute perfect storm.”

“I’ve said from Day 1, every time we play this team, we have to get to the interior of the ice,” Gibson said, “and they did a better job than us. Look where their two goals were: The blue paint. The better team won tonight.”

Undoubtedly the better skating team of the two, the Gaels didn’t look it Thursday night. Gibson said he didn’t think RMC did anything to neutralize his team’s quickness, but the Gaels looked lethargic in the second half of the game.

Take, for instance, the veteran Queen’s player going for a loose puck in an offensive corner early in the third period who had his stick knocked out of his hands. Not much later, with RMC caught in a classic bad line change, the Gaels iced the puck.

It was that kind of game for Queen’s and perhaps putting the exclamation point on that thought was RMC’s winning goal, which came on a play that would be more typical of the Gaels on a good night. With the Paladins at the end of a shift, Eric Louis-Seize picked up a loose puck at centre ice, beat his man down left wing and got the puck to the front of the net, from where Phillips whacked it home at 17:16 of the third period.

“I was about to change,” Phillips said, explaining that when Louis-Seize turned the play back into the Queen’s end, tired as he might have been, “I wasn’t about to change.

“With that much time left you’ve just got to keep going. I don’t really remember (the play), to tell you the truth. I just drove the net, with my stick on the ice, what your coaches have told you to do since you were eight years old.”

Gibson paid tribute to Deviller — to a point.

“I think their goalie took it away,” he said, “but we didn’t get to the middle of the ice. We haven’t done it at all against them. I don’t know why. Maybe they intimidate us. You’ll have to ask the 20 guys in the room, but that’s two games now where (we’ve taken) close to 100 shots and we come away with four goals. It’s mind numbing.

“They’re not good shots. I could stop them. If you’re going to shoot it from the exterior, just give me goalie pads. I’ll stand in there and kick rebounds out. If no one’s going to get to the rebounds, I’ll be a good goalie, too.”

Queen’s got its only goal while skating with a two-man advantage late in the first period, when Joey Derochie slapped a low 40-foot shot past Deviller. Three minutes later, on an RMC power play, Brendan Wright lifted a puck high over Queen’s goalie Kevin Bailie from a scramble in front of the net. It was Wright’s third goal of the year, but his second in two games.

“For the most part, this game unfolded exactly how it needed to for us to have a chance,” Shell said. “There’s no recipe for us to win without outstanding goaltending, and it was outstanding-plus. We need it to be low scoring because their goalie is the best in the league.

“We hung around. Our second period was very good and I thought we hung on for dear life in the third.”

Queen’s will finish its regular schedule with two games against No. 5-ranked Trois-Rivieres, a team that hasn’t lost in 13 games. The first of those games will be Saturday night at 7:30 at the Memorial Centre.

RMC goes to North Bay Saturday for a game with the Nipissing Lakers, the team it’s trying to catch for the division’s final playoff berth.

  1. Outstanding writeup of the game!

  2. Lee McNaughton permalink

    The RMC goalie was great but Coach Gibson is bang on “no one on Queen’s got dirty on the inside”….at least 20 of those shots were from the boards and no one was there for “garbage”. Kudos to RMC -they played a tough physical hockey game.

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