It’s hard to keep 1,663 hockey fans silent. It’s even harder at the annual Winter Carnival game held at McConnell Arena, which the McGill Redmen (18-3-1) have won 13 years in a row. But when the hosts, the No. 2 ranked team in the country, fell behind 1-0 to the RMC Paladins, (3-16-3) many in the raucous crowd were shocked. It looked like the streak was going to end in front of a record crowd.
Star defenceman and CIS leader in points Samuel Labrecque, however, came through in the clutch to score McGill’s winner—he cracked a shot from the high slot that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
McGill racked up 26 penalty minutes, the majority of which were in the first period. The Paladins capitalized on McGill’s ill discipline less than 10 minutes into the game, when junior forward John Livingston found the back of the net. Redmen Assistant Coach David Urquhart, who was at the helm while Head Coach Kelly Nobes was out serving a suspension for a game misconduct, acknowledged that the crowd may have had an impact on the team.
“The penalties at the start of the game, they set us back a bit,” Urquhart said. “The emotions might have played a factor in that with the bigger crowd than what’s normally here, but the guys did a good job of recovering from that and immediately after we killed off those penalties we took control of the game in the first period.”
Senior centre Liam Heelis led the comeback for the Redmen with one goal and one assist and was named the first star, while winger Daniel Milne rounded out the scoring and put the game out of reach with 1:34 left in the third period. Backup goaltender Joe Fleschier was in net while starter Jacob Gervais-Chouinard rested; Fleischer was stout in net, withstanding a barrage of shots early and ended the night as the third star.
“If you look at our penalty kill tonight it was great aside from the one early in the game. With all those kills, they really shut the door [….] Those guys like [Vincent] Barnard, [Etienne] Boutet, and [Francis] Lambert-Lemay, […] they don’t get […] as many accolades but they do the dirty work that allow us to win that game.”—Urquhart on the team’s well-rounded set of defenceman.
Freshman blueliner Gianluca Curcuruto had a game-high 12 penalty minutes, 10 of which came on check to the head.
Play of the Game
With the Redmen patiently probing during a power play fans were anxious and at the edge of their seats. Heelis sprung open and found Labrecque who slotted home the game-winner.