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Hockey Gaels upset Trois-Rivieres; RMC playoff dream dies

February 9, 2014

You can bet both hockey teams now deeply regret the outcome of the Carr-Harris Cup game Thursday.

For sure the Queen’s Golden Gaels do, even more than in the immediate aftermath of RMC’s 2-1 victory in the annual celebration of the ancient cross-town rivalry. They were hoping to use that game as a springboard to a challenge for first place in the East division of Ontario University Athletics, but instead of launching them upwards, that board cracked beneath the weight of their expectations.

As a result, their 4-2 win Saturday night over the Trois-Rivieres Patriotes — the division-leading team they had designs on usurping — was rendered moot in the quest for first place, though it doubtless has important ramifications for their eventual playoff seeding, not to mention their wounded pride.

For the Royal Military College Paladins, that Carr-Harris victory also rings a little hollow today. It had propelled them back into the legitimate quest for a playoff spot, just four points behind the eighth-place Nipissing, going into a game with the Lakers Saturday night.

Alas, that Thursday triumph proved to do little more than fill the Paladins with false hope. Nipissing beat ninth-place Laurentian Friday night, leaving RMC with just the scantest of playoff hope — six points back with three games to play — and that was extinguished as the Paladins went to North Bay and got whipped 7-0 by Nipissing, which thereby secured for itself the division’s final playoff berth.

Playing at the Memorial Centre, two goals about four minutes apart by Marc-Olivier Mimar in the middle of the second period had reversed a one-goal Queen’s lead and sent the visitors into the third period with a 2-1 lead.

The Gaels’ power play, normally middle of the pack — converting about 17 per cent of its man-advantage situations — came through against No. 5-ranked Trois-Rivieres, producing the tying and go-ahead goals.

First Corey Bureau, with the tying goal 72 seconds into the period, and then Patrick McGillis, with his second goal of the game three and a half minutes later, converted consecutive power-play opportunities for Queen’s.

The Gaels held on through the rest of the period, outshooting Trois-Rivieres 13-8 and cementing the victory with an empty-net goal by Kelly Jackson with 15 seconds remaining.

Kevin Bailie collected the goaltending win, making 30 saves as the Gaels were outshot 32-28. Bailie, who has allowed just eight goals in his last five games, has a goals-against average of 1.98, best in Canada among goalies with more than 15 starts.

The win was the 17th this year for Queen’s, tying the school’s all-time record for victories in a season. That mark was established in 1979-80, when the Gaels were 17-3-2 in a season that was six games shorter than it is now.

As the weekend’s snow settled, the Gaels, 17-5-5, find themselves in fourth place, three points behind McGill, two behind Carleton and one behind Trois-Rivieres, which also lost Friday night, 5-3 at Carleton.

The Gaels, who can finish no worse than fourth, will close their schedule Friday night at Trois-Rivieres, which will end its season the next day with a home game against Nipissing. McGill has one game remaining, also at home versus Nipissing, while Carleton visits RMC on Wednesday and ends its schedule at home Saturday against Laurentian.

While the Gaels were re-asserting themselves into the playoff equation at home, RMC was summarily dismissing itself from post-season play in North Bay, where a crowd of 1,400 watched the home team score in the game’s second minute and take a 2-0 first-period lead.

RMC outshot the Lakers 13-9 in the second period but the Paladins could get a shot past goaltender Kirk Rafuse. Brandon Warmington’s goal at 3:19 of the third period gave Nipissing a 3-0 lead and four minutes later the Lakers got goals from Craig Campbell and Conor O’Donnell just 41 seconds apart and the game was essentially over at that point.

Nipissing outshot RMC 22-9 in the final 20 minutes, 46-27 overall, as the Paladins fell to 3-20-3.

O’Donnell had two assists for Nipissing, one on each of his team’s first two goals, as the Lakers got goals from seven different players.

For the sophomore Rafuse, it was his first intercollegiate shutout. In two games since being yanked in the second period after giving up four goals at Queen’s two weeks ago, Rafuse has allowed just one goal.

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One Comment
  1. Claude: Once again, I really enjoy reading your articles on University sports, in general and hockey, in particular. We have to meet and discuss a plan on how to get a wider audience of your outstanding work.

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