After sweeping the OUA East quarter-finals and semifinals with ease, the McGill Redmen entered the OUA East Finals riding a seven-game win streak to take on the no. 4 Carleton Ravens. The Ravens began the series with a statement win of 5-2 over the Redmen before dropping the second game to a resilient McGill team, 3-2. The seesaw series set the table for the last match on Sunday at Carleton, in which the Redmen prevailed 2-1 off of a game-winning shot by defenceman Jean-Philippe Mathieu. The win clinched the Redmen’s fifth OUA Eastern Conference Championship in six years.
Characteristic to its starts in the two previous games in the series, the Redmen opened the match by scoring in the first period. This time the goal came by way of rookie Neal Prokop, who was assisted by 5’10” centre Cedric McNicoll and fellow left-winger Patrick Deslisle-Houde on the play. A frustrated Ravens team was unable to get on the board before the end of the period.
With its season on the line, Carleton increased its physicality as the match moved into the second frame, posting four penalties after a penalty-free first period. The Ravens’ scrappy play led to a goal at the 14:48 mark, which evened the score at 1-1. However, Mathieu paid Carleton back in turn, as the second-year defenseman scored on a power play with 2:43 remaining in the second period to clinch the game. The goal was Mathieu’s second of the series, after he netted a similar game-winner in Saturday’s matchup at McConnell Arena.
The Ravens were unable to get past McGill netminder Jacob Gervais-Chouinard in the third period despite posting an overall shot advantage of 34-27. The match improved the rookie goalie’s overall playoff record to 6-1.
The OUA Eastern Conference victory is the Redmen’s first since the 2011-12 squad, which went on to win the National Championship. Last year McGill finished its season with a disappointing loss to Nipissing University in the OUA semifinals after posting a conference record of 17-11. This year’s roster is relatively young, with 23 first- and second-year players, in contrast to the veteran-laden squad that hoisted the University Cup two seasons ago.
After the weekend’s loss, the Ravens will now go on to host the Lakehead Thunderwolves in the OUA bronze medal game. The winner of that game will earn a wildcard berth to the CIS National Championships.
The Redmen’s next task will be to face the Windsor Lancers in next Saturday’s OUA Queen’s Cup gold medal game. The series win against Carleton also guaranteed a spot for McGill at the CIS National Championships, which will take place in Saskatoon from Mar. 20-23.