The McGill Redmen played the Jekyll and Hyde game once again on Sunday night, as they showcased both incredible skill and a complete lack of discipline during a 6-2 win over the Carleton Ravens at McConnell Arena. The victory clinched the best-of-three OUA East semifinal for McGill, who won consecutive games after a surprising loss in the series opener.
When they weren’t spending time in the penalty box, the Redmen easily outclassed the overmatched Ravens. McGill led the CIS in scoring with 156 goals during the regular season, and boasts nine players who notched 25 or more points this year. They are unquestionably one of the most talented teams in the CIS – something that was evident on four goals that came as a result of beautiful cross-ice passes on Sunday.
But the Redmen are also the third most-penalized team in the CIS, and have a penchant for taking selfish and unnecessary penalties at inopportune times. They were assessed 33 penalty minutes in the first 15 minutes of play on Sunday night, which led to five Carleton power-play opportunities – including two five-on-three advantages.
“The first time this team has seen me go ballistic [this season] was during the first intermission,” said McGill Head Coach Jim Webster. “We compete hard, and that’s a big part of why we’re a good team, but we can’t keep taking stupid penalties like we did in the first period.”
McGill captain Yan Turcotte provided an illustrative example of the team’s capacity for both skill and undisciplined play during a five-minute stretch in the first period. After drawing a penalty and then scoring on the ensuing power-play, Turcotte was assessed a match penalty for spearing Carleton’s Andrew Self on a neutral zone faceoff less than four minutes later.
“He knew the ref was watching him and he still speared the guy in [the groin]. How stupid is that?” said Webster.
Turcotte incurs an automatic three-game suspension for the spear, and will miss the entire OUA Eastern Conference Final series.
Evan Vossen led the way for McGill, setting up Turcotte’s goal and then adding a pair of markers late in the first and third periods. Francis Verrault-Paul – who was named the OUA East Most Valuable Player after leading the league in points – also scored twice, and Maxime Langalier-Parent chipped in a goal to round out the Redmen scoring.
“When our backs were against the wall we really played well – we could have had five or six more goals in that game as well,” said Webster. “Their goalie [Alexandre Archibauld] was unbelievable.”
The Redmen had opened the OUA East semifinal with a 5-2 loss on Feb 24. Carleton went 4-for-6 against McGill’s league-leading penalty kill unit, and Archibauld made 44 saves to power the Ravens to the first game upset victory.
“In the first game their power-play and our lack of discipline hurt us,” said Vossen. “But they also got some great goaltending from [Archibauld]. He keeps them in games and makes big saves, and that’s something their team feeds off of.”
With the Redmen facing elimination on Friday, they answered back with a 5-1 victory over the Ravens at the Carleton University Ice House. Francis Verrault-Paul tallied two goals and an assist, and goaltender Hubert Morin made 21 saves to force the deciding game on Sunday night.
With the series victory, the Redmen advance to the OUA Eastern Conference Final, where they will face the UQTR Patriotes for the fifth time in the last six years. UQTR held a 2-1 edge in regular season play, and have home ice advantage for the series.
“UQTR has experienced players that can score,” said Webster. “It’s not their skating or their speed that’s dangerous, it’s the fact that they’ve got several guys who scored 30 or more goals in the Quebec Major Hockey League. But I’m confident that we can beat them.”
The conference final begins on Wednesday at Le Colisée in Trois-RiviÃ¨res. Game two is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday at McConnell Arena. If necessary, game three will be played in Trois-RiviÃ¨res on Sunday.