The McGill Men’s Hockey team (16–11–1) lost on Feb. 9 to the Ontario Tech University Ridgebacks (13–15) by a final score of 5–3 in a nail-biting home game filled with highs and lows. Despite strong efforts from McGill in the first and third period, the home side could not overcome the flurry of shots that bombarded first-year goalie Emmanuel Vella.
The first period started with sloppy play from both teams. McGill and the Ridgebacks turned the puck over frequently and struggled to get any shots on net. It was only halfway through the first period that both sides sharpened their play and started getting direct shots on goal. With eight minutes remaining, second-year forward Jordan-Ty Fournier scooped the puck up behind the net and wrap it around the post into the goal past the unsuspecting Ridgeback goaltender. McGill closed out the period with a strong show of offensive strength, dominating possession and getting several shots on net.
Momentum quickly shifted, as the Ridgbacks came out strong in the second period. Ridgeback forward Austin Eastman snuck a quick wrist shot past Vella just one minute into the period. The next 10 minutes were gut-wrenching for McGill fans: The Ridgebacks rarely gave up the puck and managed shot after shot, eventually resulting in another goal for the visitors.
Frustrations were running high: Several near-fights and jawing matches popped up in the last five minutes of the period, as the Ridgebacks continued their stretch of offensive dominance.
Fresh out of the locker room, the Ridgebacks started the final period strong, scoring their third goal just 53 seconds into the period. However, fortunes quickly shifted in favour of McGill. They dug in their heels, got scrappy, and cleaned up their passing. Third-year forward Antoine Dufort-Plante capitalized on energy and dinged one in with 16 minutes remaining in the third period. Fournier followed up 32 seconds later, scoring off a slap-shot from the blue line.
Unfortunately for McGill, their good luck did not last. Despite offensive control throughout the third period, they could not convert, failing to put the puck in the net for the rest of the game. With just under seven minutes remaining, the Ridgebacks scored a quick wrist shot off the top of the net. McGill upped their pace and eventually pulled Vella to add an extra skater, but they were unable to use the added pressure to score a goal. Ontario Tech scored once more on an empty net in the final minute, ending the game in a loss of 5–3 for McGill.
Nonetheless, Fournier is optimistic about McGill’s chances heading into the playoffs.
“You know, I think we could have done better, but we have a shot at redemption in the coming weeks,” Fournier said. “We might be playing them in the playoffs,”
Head Coach Liam Heelis reflected on the positives he took away from the game.
“I thought our guys did a good job being resilient and trying to edge our way back into the hockey game,” Heelis said. “I think that’s an important characteristic of our team and think our boys have shown that all season.”
Moment Of The Game
With just under 15 minutes remaining in the third period, second-year forward Jordan-Ty Fournier hit a slap shot from the back right offensive zone to bring McGill back from an initial deficit of 1–3. This came hot off a goal from third-year forward Antoine Dufort-Plante at the 16 and a half minute mark—an exciting moment for a crowd of enthusiastic McGill fans.
“I think this is a team that people have to be worried about. We’ve battled adversity all year, and come playoff time it’s not gonna change. We have one of the most talented groups of guys in there. I’d say come watch, come support the team, It’s gonna be a fun few weeks.” – Second-year forward Jordan-Ty Fournier on McGill’s prospects in the postseason.
First-year goalie Emmanuel Vella set a McGill record for goaltender assists in a single game, assisting two of McGill’s three goals.