On Feb. 23, McGill men’s hockey (17-7) fell to the Carleton Ravens (18-5) in the second game of the OUA East semifinals at McConnell Arena. After an eventful first period during which Carleton quickly took control, McGill was unable to fight back and ultimately lost by a score of 5-3.
Initially, neither team was able to build any momentum. However, the Ravens finally kicked into gear, testing the McGill defence repeatedly. In turn, McGill third-year goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon made a series of spectacular saves to keep Carleton off of the score sheet. When tempers flared later in the period, McGill found themselves on the penalty kill while the Ravens took advantage of the power play, finding the back of the net to go ahead 1-0. A Carleton slapshot doubled the visitors’ lead just 17 seconds later. The McGill team then left a Carleton winger all alone as a result of a glaring defensive error, and, less than 10 minutes into the period, the score was 3-0 Carleton. The Ravens kept up their pressure and eventually put another past a hapless McGill. With the team now down four, McGill Head Coach Kelly Nobes called a timeout.
“We talked about what we needed to do.” Nobes said. “We needed to get on our feet [and] have a greater sense of urgency.”
McGill picked up the intensity after the timeout. With the pressure mounting and physicality escalating, the Ravens goaltender was forced to make several critical saves, leading to a Carleton penalty for charging. Capitalizing on the advantage, third-year winger Guillaume Gauthier and fourth-year centre Jerome Verrier set up third-year transfer defenceman Nikolas Brouillard for a one-timer that finally put McGill on the board. Following the goal, Carleton’s defence began to falter: A mesmerizing move from Verrier left a Carleton defender helpless and set up second-year forward Antoine Dufort-Plante to score with a wrist shot. With one minute left in the first period, second-year forward Keanu Yamamoto added another shot to pull McGill within one goal of Carleton.
The second period proved to be a drab affair in comparison to the first. Carleton sat back, frustrating the home side. McGill continued to push into the offensive zone, but the well-organized Raven defence was unrelenting. Fourth-year McGill winger Christophe Lalonde had the best chance of helping McGill to inch again when he hit the post with a slapshot, but, at the end of the period, the score remained 4-3 in Carleton’s favour.
McGill put up a fight at the start of the third period, controlling the puck in the offensive zone. The Ravens responded skilfully: They exploited the gaps in McGill’s defence and nearly scored a fifth goal. However, a spectacular triple save from Guindon kept McGill within one.
On the other side of the rink, the Carleton goaltender made a spectacular move to deny first-year forward Nicolas Poulin. The two goaltenders continued to make admirable saves, and the tension continued to rise. With seven minutes of regulation time remaining, Carleton scored a fifth goal, and, despite their best efforts, McGill could not respond.
While disappointed by the loss, Nobes applauded the spirit his team showed in the comeback attempt.
“We started the game four down, but I liked our character in coming back in the first period and closing it to 4-3,” Nobes said. “[But], we weren’t able to get the final goal.”
The two teams faced off the next day at Carleton’s home rink. Unfortunately, Carleton came out victorious in the overtime affair, ending McGill’s season with a conference semifinal exit.
Moment of the Game
Jerome Verrier deftly maneuvered his way through the Carleton defence before setting up Antoine Dufort-Plante for McGill’s second goal.
“I don’t think we were prepared for the storm they brought. But we answered well, we played really well after 10 minutes The game could have gone either way.” – Nikolas Brouillard on the positives the team could take from their performance.
Third-year goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon made plenty of saves in the third period after a shaky start to the evening; he ended the game having saved 24 out of 29 shots.