The McGill Men’s Hockey team (20–15–1) beat the Concordia Stingers (16–19) on Feb. 13 in a nail-biting opener of the OUA East quarterfinals at McConnell Arena. The game saw tempers boil over, but McGill held off a barrage of shots in the final period to clinch the Game 1 win with a tight 2–1 victory. However, two losses on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 saw McGill end their playoff run early.
The first period got off to a laboured start as both teams struggled to find their rhythm. McGill managed to maintain possession of the puck and forced a string of saves by Stinger goalie Kyle Jessiman. Concordia picked up the first of what would be three penalties this period and McGill took advantage of the resulting power plays by controlling their offensive zone. Their passing allowed them to create a series of opportunities. The team struck gold a minute before the end of the power play, when a well-executed sequence between third-year forward Keanu Yamamoto and fourth-year defenceman Nathanael Halbert put the puck on second-year forward Jordan-Ty Fournier’s tape, to put McGill up 1–0 before the break.
“[Concordia’s physical play is] something we’re used to with [our] rivalry,” Head Coach Liam Heelis said. “They’re in the same city as us, and we play so many games against them. Sometimes, things tend to fizzle up, but in the end, we’re [focussed] on playing our game.”
The McGill offence began the second period right where they left off, nearly doubling their advantage when a slapshot clattered off the goalpost. Halfway through the second period, captain and fourth-year forward Samuel Tremblay scored off of a dribble down the right to extend the lead. The goal seemed to be a wake-up call for the opposition, kicking off a period of dominance from the Stingers. Called into action, fourth-year goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon made save after save. The visitors finally broke through after a lapse in defence, which allowed them to tap the puck past Guindon. The period ended 2–1 for McGill.
The final period saw an electric Concordia team come out energized looking for the equalizer, but McGill’s defensive lockdown did not break. Tensions rose through the roof in the final five minutes after McGill picked up two penalties. The Stingers nearly scored on the power play, striking the goalpost with two minutes remaining. However, Guindon remained solid in the net, making three saves in the final minute, to secure a victory for McGill in the series opener.
“That was a great win for us, we played really well and as a team today, and I think the results really just speak [for themselves,]” Heelis said.
McGill’s season ended after a 5–4 OT loss against the Stingers on Feb. 15 and a 2–1 loss on Feb. 16.
Moment of the Game
Fourth-year goalie Louis-Philip Guindon pulled off a spectacular double save in the dying minutes of the game to seal the victory for McGill.
“I’m really proud of the effort they put in tonight and the effort they put in [preparing] for the [game]” – Head Coach Liam Heelis on the team’s work ethic in and out of the game.
Guindon was on top of his game, making 34 saves to keep an unrelenting Stinger’s offence to just one goal.