On Oct. 20, the McGill Redmen (5-1-0) took on the Guelph Gryphons (1-2-1) at McConnell Arena. Both offences capitalized on opportunities during the high-scoring affair, but ultimately McGill took the game 7-4.
In the first frame, the Redmen dominated the shot clock, but finished the stretch at a deficit due to defensive breakdowns. The Gryphons were the first to score when they took advantage of a discombobulated Redmen defence after a scramble in front of the net. Later in the period, an unsuccessful Redmen penalty kill resulted in another goal for Guelph. McGill was able to respond on the rush when third-year defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi scored after firing a shot that trickled in after the Guelph goaltender deflected it. Heading into the second, the shot totals were 15-8 in favour of the Redmen although they trailed 2-1 on the scoreboard.
The Redmen attack exploded in the second period, using speed on the forecheck and in the offensive zone to create juicy opportunities and drive the puck to the net, for a total of four goals.
“We had a tough start […but] we have a fast team this year, so […] we had an advantage,” Talbot-Tassi said. “Our speed made a huge difference.”
However, McGill suffered from ongoing sloppy defensive play and gave up a number of scoring opportunities to Guelph, conceding two more goals.
During the final period, McGill ran into penalty trouble and had to survive a barrage of Guelph shots. Early on, the Gryphons capitalized on a power play, narrowing the gap to just one goal. Despite their defensive ineptitudes and a quintet of minor penalties, the Redmen hung on to the lead—helped by an aggressive penalty kill that resulted in two shorthanded tallies. First year forward Quinn Syrydiuk scored his career-first Redmen goal after a misplay by the Guelph goalie saw him alone in front of an empty net. Later, second-year centre Alexandre Sills completed a hat trick after a beautiful saucer pass from third-year forward Julien Verrier on the penalty kill.
Despite earning a victory, the Redmen acknowledged that their defence needs to tighten up.
“We weren’t sharp tonight defensively,” Head Coach Kelly Nobes said. “We need to be better.”
Sills, who was the first star of the game, agreed with his coach.
“We were lacking […] focus at some points, [and] we made some mistakes that [are] easy to correct,” Sills said. “[We] definitely need to get more focused on our game, and get back to the system.”
The following night on Oct. 21, McGill defeated the Brock Badgers 3-2. Next, the Redmen will travel to take on the Queen’s Gaels on Oct. 27. They return to home ice on Nov. 3 for a rematch against the Royal Military College Paladins after a blowout victory in their OUA season opener.
Moment of the Game
On a power play late in the second period, Alexandre Sills scored his second goal of the night on a beautiful passing play off the draw. Defenceman and captain Nathan Chiarlitti set up Sills in the paint with a gorgeous pass from the half wall.
“It was fun [….] I was seven years old when I scored [my] last hatty, [and] two of my buddies were here from my hometown [tonight, so] it was good.” – Forward Alexandre Sills on how it felt to score a hat trick.
McGill outshot the Gryphons by a margin of 21 shots at a final count of 53-32.