The 2010-11 season will go down as the most successful campaign in McGill Redmen history despite a disappointing finish. In an extremely physical contest McGill lost 4-0 in the National Championship final to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds on Sunday night. This season the Redmen won the Queen’s Cup, set a school record with 38 wins, led the nation in scoring by averaging 5.08 goals per game, and made the National Championship title game for the first time in McGill’s history.
“We got manhandled a little [in the Gold Medal game], there’s no doubt about it,” said McGill Head Coach Kelly Nobes to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t able to utilize our speed and were pushed around left, right, and centre. But at the end of the day, I was really proud of my team. They had an outstanding season. They showed that they’re one of the top programs in the country as well as the top students. I’d also add that these are also top-notch guys, high-quality people and I’m extremely proud of them.”
The Redmen entered the CIS Championships as the second ranked team in the country. The six-team tournament was split into two groups, with the winner of each group playing for the title. The Redmen were grouped with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and the University of Alberta Golden Bears, and won both games to advance to the championship against the Varsity Reds.
MCGILL vs ST. FX
The Redmen opened the CIS tournament against fifth ranked St. Francis Xavier in Fredericton this past Thursday. Despite playing from behind for most of the game, the Redmen managed to clinch the victory with a classy tic-tac-toe play resulting in a goal in the third period, beating the X-Men 2-1.
This was the first University Cup meeting between the two teams. In their only other meeting this season, the X-Men defeated McGill 6-5 in overtime.
St. FX had a rough start, receiving a penalty for high sticking just 30 seconds into the first period. McGill dominated from there, getting 12 shots through to St. FX’s player of the game, goalie Joseph Perricone, but couldn’t find the back of the net. The first period ended in a scoreless draw.
McGill outshot St. FX in every period of the game. However, the X-Men were the first to tally when CIS Rookie of the Year Jason Bast chipped the puck between the legs of a McGill defender, retrieved it, and popped a goal into the top left corner with five minutes left in the second period, opening a one-goal gap over the Redmen.
In the third period, McGill alternate captain and player of the game Guillaume Doucet finally broke the ice and tied the game. With a long pass from Simon Marcotte-Légaré, Doucet accelerated into St. FX’s half, skated around a defenceman, and cut to the right before firing the puck low into the back of the net. The momentum continued when five minutes later Maxime Langelier-Parent, Doucet, and Marc-André Daneau showed beautiful offensive control in the St. FX’s end. With two quick, easy passes and a hammering shot, Daneau gained a 2-1 lead with another McGill goal.
St. FX fought back with renewed pressure in the dwindling minutes of the third period and registered a handful of challenging shots. However, McGill goalie Hubert Morin was more than up to the challenge. Morin not only saved 25 shots over the course of the game but made a miraculous stick save to preserve the lead with five minutes remaining in regulation.
With the win, McGill earned a day off and the chance to face the third-ranked Alberta Golden Bears in their second round robin game.
MCGILL vs. ALBERTA
The Redmen entered their second game of the CIS Championship against the Alberta Golden Bears knowing a win would clinch their spot in the National Championship title game for the first time in McGill history. The Redmen did not disappoint as they jumped out to a quick 2-0 first period lead and cruised to a commanding 6-3 victory.
McGill lived up to its reputation as the highest-scoring team in the nation with six goals on just 20 shots. In addition, the Redmen’s brutally efficient specialty teams continued to fire on all cylinders as the power play converted three of their six chances and the penalty kill successfully shut down all four of Alberta’s power plays.
Forward Maxime Langelier-Parent scored twice to lead a balanced McGill offence which had five players tally for the game.
“I thought overall we didn’t play badly. But credit to McGill,” said Alberta Head Coach Eric Thurston to the Canadian Press. “They’re a very skilled team. They scored six times on 20 shots.”
The game started slowly, remaining tied at 0-0 with three minutes to go in the first frame. However, Francis Verreault-Paul and Langelier-Parent scored within a minute of each other to seize the momentum despite being outshot 8-5 in the first period.
McGill led for the rest of the game. Alberta was able to trim their deficit to a single goal at 2-1 but Ryan McKiernan and Evan Vossen scored back-to-back to increase the McGill lead to three goals. From then on the final result was never in doubt. Langelier-Parent and CIS MVP Alexandre Picard-Hooper scored in the third to help the Redmen advance to the CIS Championship to face the UNB Varsity Reds.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: MCGILL vs. UNB
Hordes of McGill students filled BDP last night, but beer pong was nowhere in sight. From corner to corner, McGillians draped in red kept their eyes fixed on the several flatscreens broadcasting SportsNet’s coverage of the game. But an initially boisterous crowd lost steam as UNB’s lead rose goal by painful goal. Occasionally taking pause to express outrage at a nasty hit on one of McGill’s Redmen, by the third period many in the bar were morose and distracted. At this point even the occasional commercial about McGill’s sports history lost its novelty. Still, it was fun to see a McGill team on national television.
The 2011 Redmen had the school’s best-ever finish at Nationals, making the University Cup gold-medal final. However, once they arrived their inexperience and lack of size showed in a lopsided 4-0 defeat against the four-time champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.
The Reds’ superior physical play prevented the Redmen from using their speed, and UNB’s vaunted defence proved too much for McGill’s normally puissant attack. When McGill did make the offensive zone, they were usually turned
away after a single shot.
UNB kept McGill pinned in the defensive zone early, grinding away until tournament MVP Luke Gallant scored with a shot from the point at 10:04 of the first. With five minutes remaining in the period McGill attempted to counter-attack. They registered seven consecutive shots on net but couldn’t solve UNB goalie Travis Fullerton. Fullerton made a diving save on a shot from McGill’s Patrick Belzile to preserve the one-goal lead and then stoned Redman Andrew Wright on a partial breakaway.
UNB turned to some rough tactics to stymie the McGill momentum. Josh Kidd went for a dirty hit, sticking his leg out and hitting Belzile with a painful knee-on-knee
collision that required him to be carried off the ice. Kidd only received a minor two minute penalty.
The Varsity Reds controlled play in the second but goalie Hubert Morin kept McGill in it. However, 12 minutes into the period, after a great post-to-post sliding right pad save by Morin, UNB’s Daine Todd notched a goal by batting the puck off a skate and in. With 3:30 to go, Fullerton made the two biggest saves of the game in tight on Redmen captain Evan Vossen.
the third the Reds got away with murder, or near murder, as UNB’s Dion Campbell tagged Ben Morse with a dirty, late hit from behind. There was no call, as the refs had clearly decided early on to let the players play. UNB’s Matt Fillier and Todd capped the scoring with two goals in the third.
Despite the disheartening loss, the Redmen are looking ahead to next season. With the team only losing three players to graduation, a return to Fredericton for next year’s championship looks like it’s in the cards.