On Dec. 1, McGill Redmen hockey (15-3-0) beat the Laurentian University Voyageurs (2-15-0) in a back-and-forth affair at McConnell Arena. After setting up a 3-0 lead in the first period, McGill briefly relinquished their control, but they still pulled away with a 6-3 final score.
McGill scored first in on a shorthanded goal—a nice backhand by third-year forward Jerome Verrier halfway through the first period. Five minutes later, second-year Redmen forward Samuel Tremblay doubled the lead, closely followed by another goal from third-year defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi. After 15 minutes of gameplay, the Redmen sat on a 3-0 lead, forcing the Voyageurs to pull their starting goalie.
Despite McGill’s dominant start, Laurentian stormed back in the second period, cutting the lead to just one point. A McGill power play goal by second-year left winger Guillaume Gauthier put the Redmen back ahead by two, but the Voyageurs managed a third tally, making the score 4-3. This time, McGill was forced to change goalies, putting in second-year Louis-Philip Guindon for the final period.
McGill’s struggles in the second period were uncharacteristic of the style of play that has so far led them to the top of the OUA East conference.
“They started strong,” Tremblay said. “They were good on their forecheck […], and we tried too [many] breakaways and […] fast plays, which is not our game, really. ”
After the waffling momentum changes in the first two periods, the Redmen refocused their strategy in the second intermission and dug deep for the third and final period.
“We talked about our battle level needing to be greater,” Redmen Head Coach Kelly Nobes said. “In the first two periods, we were losing our one-on-one battles, and […] it showed in races, it showed in 50-50 pucks, it showed off face-offs.”
This tactic paid off for the Redmen and their coaches, whose experience and skill were obvious in the third period. The Redmen regained control to handily contain the Voyageurs, slowing down Laurentian’s game and out-shooting them 27-7. Another goal from Gauthier, and one from third-year forward Christophe Lalonde during another powerplay, gave McGill a 6-3 lead. The Voyageurs were clearly rattled, as they became more and more chippy late in the third period. Eventually, two fights broke out in the final seconds of the game, but they were little compensation for the Voyageurs, as the Redmen maintained a three-goal lead to close out the game.
McGill’s conference-leading squad has high ambitions for the season. As they continue their dominant play this year, pushing their record to 14-3, they’re staying focused on the short term.
“We’re just trying to [take everything] day by day, and we’re building our identity as a team,” Tremblay said. “We’re focusing on every game, and then after [that] we’re going to look forward to the playoffs. Like every year, we’re trying to go to Nationals.”
On Dec. 2, the Redmen faced off against the Nipissing University Lakers (5-9-3). After topping the Lakers with a 4-3 regulation win, the Redmen are headed into a month-long break. They return to play on Jan. 5 at McConnell Arena against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Moment of the game
Defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi launched a beautiful wrist shot from the point late in the first period. The puck, flying just out of the Voyageurs goaltender’s reach, bounced off the bar and into the net, giving McGill a 3-0 lead.
“We talked to each other a lot on the bench and [in] the room, […] and we just [got] back to what we [do] best.” Second-year winger Samuel Tremblay on McGill’s composure in the face of Laurentian’s attempted comeback.
McGill more than doubled Laurentian’s shot totals, with the final count at 58-25 in favour of the Redmen.