‘Relentless’ is a word that summarizes the McGill Redmen Hockey team’s (21-6-1) dominant 9-2 victory over crosstown rival Concordia (10-12-6) at McConnell Arena on Wednesday. From the puck drop to the final buzzer, the Redmen played a physical, skillful, and disciplined style to capture a 1-0 series lead in the OUA East quarter-final.
“You try to play the same way, try and stick to your plan,” Head Coach Kelly Nobes said. “And I think we did a good job of that tonight. We played a full 60 minutes, and that’s what it takes this time of year.”
Of the two sides, McGill generated the best chances in the first period, most notably a fifth minute thread-the-needle pass by centre Liam Heelis. At 11:35, senior centre Mathieu Pompei’s nasty slide-by dangle and shot past the goalie opened McGill’s account for the post-season. Concordia replied swiftly, scoring a minute after a McGill penalty kill. McGill reclaimed its lead at the end of the first period as forward Patrick Delisle-Houde scooped up a blocked shot rebound to find the top of the net.
From the second period onward, McGill dictated the game’s pace; at the 2:18 mark of the second period, a point shot from McGill was deflected onto the stick of rookie winger Rock Regimbald, whose no-look behind-the-back pass found rookie winger Christophe Lalonde for the goal. Even though Concordia tied the scores five minutes later, the Redmen were still in charge. A double penalty at the 12 minute mark led to four-on-four play; a great sliding breakup by rookie defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi in the Redmen’s own zone led to a counterattack goal scored by Talbot-Tassi himself.
“It’s a 200 foot play,” Nobes said. “It’s a great defensive play that gets you rewarded at the other end of the ice and that’s how the game works all the time.”
McGill asserted their will at the end of the second period with a beautiful transition three-man-weave that led to rookie centre Frederic Gamelin scoring. The Redmen entered the third period with a 33-20 shot advantage and a 5-2 lead.
McGill dominated Concordia in the third period; three minutes in, sophomore winger Simon Tardif-Richard squeezed the puck into the front of the net. Frustrations began to boil over for the Stingers, and the visitors’ Frederick Roy received a five minute major and a game misconduct for fighting (Gamelin also received two minutes for roughing). Despite the tensions, McGill continued to play with great drive: The team’s seventh and eighth goals, both on power-plays, were scored by Lalonde and Jonathan Bonneau, respectively. Bonneau also added McGill’s final and ninth goal of the game—he exploded past the defender on the right side of the ice, sniping a stunning shot into the top-left corner of the net.
McGill went on to win the second game and the series at Concordia in a hard fought 4-3 overtime win on Friday, Feb 19. Simon Tardif-Richard scored twice, including the game-winner, to help the Redmen advance to the next round of the OUA playoffs against the Carleton Ravens on Feb 24.
“I think that it’s the playoffs, it’s a short series, [so] you need to be ready from the start, need to play 60 minutes, I don’t think that was a factor in tonight’s game.”—Nobes on whether McGill’s rivalry with Concordia influenced their performance.
Concordia was only 1-7 on the power-play, and McGill had a decisive shot advantage of 43-29.
Play of the Game
A great end-to-end play by the Redmen during four-on-four, with a great diving breakup, translated to a great goal from the slot on the other end by Talbot-Tassi.