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(Keli Geers / The McGill Tribune)

McGill men’s hockey falls to Queen’s in season opener

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On Oct. 5, the McGill Redmen (1-1) hockey team opened its season against the Queen’s Gaels (1-0) with a 2-1 loss in overtime. Their first win of the season came the following night against the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières Patriotes.

Just three minutes into the game, fourth-year transfer McGill centre Aaron Armstrong opened the scoring, assisted by second-year forwards Keanu Yamamoto and Michael Cramarossa.

McGill was dominant through the first period and continued to create high-quality scoring chances throughout the night. Unfortunately, they couldn’t convert many of those opportunities, and, despite a strong defensive showing by the Redmen, the Gaels went home victorious after an overtime goal.

“Our execution needs to be a little bit better around the net,” Redmen Head Coach Kelly Nobes said. “We need to get more of a net front presence and get some second and third chances.”

Armstrong agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“[We’ve] got to be finishing the chances,” he said. “I had a few chances tonight that I should have put in.”

A strong first period demonstrated the Redmen’s potential for the rest of the season with a goal at the beginning and a solid presence in front of the Queen’s net throughout the period.

“[We need to] play like we did in the first [period] and just stay more consistent,” Yamamoto said.

McGill was less dominant in the second and third periods, but still stayed strong defensively and created several scoring chances, including a third-period breakaway that resulted in a shot off the post. Unfortunately, a strong performance by the Gaels goaltender shut down McGill’s scoring, and Queen’s eventually found the back of the net on a power play in the second period to make it 1-1. In overtime, both teams had promising opportunities to score, but the Gaels capitalized on their chances first, and they took the game 2-1.

The first game of the season was an opportunity for the players and coaches to see where they can improve and what they are doing well. It was also a chance to see how the team works together in a meaningful game. Despite the loss, McGill’s evaluations were generally positive.

“We’ve got a good group of guys here and a good coaching staff,” Armstrong said. “It’s been a lot of fun and, hopefully, we’ll turn it around.”

Nobes, meanwhile, saw room for improvement.

“We’re still getting going and I don’t think everyone is operating at their full potential,” Nobes said. “They can be better, and they will be. […. Nicolas] Poulin and [Jordan] Fournier up front [had a solid game] and Armstrong had our only goal.”

Putting the lessons from Friday’s game into place during the rest of the season will prove important. With some adjustments, the Redmen should be headed for a strong season: They hope to repeat last season’s Queen’s Cup title win and finish at the top of the OUA conference again.

Following the opening loss, the Redmen rebounded to defeat the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières Patriotes 4-1 on Oct. 6. They host the Patriotes again on Oct. 12.

Moment of the Game:

McGill’s first goal of the season came just two minutes into the first period when Aaron Armstrong scored off of an assist from Keanu Yamamoto and Michael Cramarossa.

Quotable:

“I was the benefactor of a nice pass from Keanu and Cramarossa there, so that was pretty fortunate. They just did the work and then put it right on my tape.” – Aaron Armstrong on his first goal for the McGill Redmen.

Stats Corner:

Louis-Philip Guindon’s 26 saves kept the score even until overtime.

 

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