McGill (20-6-0) proved themselves the kings of Queen’s (14-8-0) as they propelled themselves past an early deficit to a 3-2 victory in front of 598 fans at the annual “Renew the Rivalry” hockey game. Centre Mathieu Pompei and defenceman Samuel Labrecque were the stars of the night, helping seal the Redmen’s 31st straight victory over the Gaels. The victory was all the more sweet after the Redmen lost two games this past week.
“We weren’t really concerned with momentum [after last week’s losses],” Redmen Head Coach Kelly Nobes clarified. “We were more focused on our process and how we were playing the game. We weren’t necessarily concerned about the outcome.”
The focus on the process came to fruition as the Redmen outplayed Queen’s from the onset. Queen’s, however, took an early lead in the first period due to some costly McGill turnovers—a scrambled goal in the crease from Andrew Wiebe and power play snapshot conversion from Patrick McGillis, both of Queen’s, put the Redmen down 2-0.
The tides turned in the second period, when the Redmen began to convert their control of the game into bona fide scoring opportunities. With McGill rookie goaltender Joe Fleschler standing strong, the team was able to focus almost exclusively on offence. Samuel Labrecque cycled the puck to the hash marks to set up freshman defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi for a goal from the point to put McGill on the board. Graduate student Liam Heelis picked up the second helper. McGill further capitalized on their momentum when speedy forward Mathieu Pompei tied up the game at 17.55 after picking up a bad Queen’s turnover in the defensive zone, outskating the remaining Queen’s defender to get a breakaway, and shooting, in stride, glove-side to beat All-Canadian goaltender Kevin Baillie.
McGill sealed the victory in an exciting third period, during which they killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3. Pompei, coming up strong once again for McGill, slammed the puck home after it popped free from a scrum behind the net. A late powerplay for Queen’s with 8.9 seconds left looked like it could be a late surge game-changer, but the Redmen held on to break their two game losing streak and reassert their position at the top of the standings, tied with UQTR for points.
“Despite going down 2-0, when we could have had a really big let up, we pushed back and we showed a lot of character,” Nobes said of the victory.
With his assist, CIS points leader Labrecque tied the record for most points in a season by a Redmen defenceman. Initially credited with breaking the record after recording helper on the final goal, Labrecque humbly corrected the statistician, saying he had not touched the puck in the play, giving credit to rookie forwards Christophe Lalonde and Daniel Milne.
“I actually don’t know what felt better,” Labrecque elaborated. “The win or the [record tying] point.”
“We set objectives for tonight’s game in eight different categories and we looked at our game in those eight categories and I felt that we did well in those categories. I think that’s what probably pleased the coaching staff the most. It’s a good sign for things to come.” – Nobes on the Redmen’s process and how it will benefit the team as playoffs begin this month.
McGill outshot the Gaels 56 to 28, dominating offensively throughout the match.
Play of the game:
Pompei’s breakaway to tie the game not only gave McGill the momentum they needed, but also showcased his skating prowess as he out-sprinted a flat footed Gaels defender to release a quick in-stride shot that found the twine over the glove of a dazed Bailie.