On Feb. 16, the McGill men’s hockey team (17-11) defeated the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks (14-14) in an exciting 6-2 win to advance to the OUA semifinal round. In the rough-and-tumble affair, 12 players—including both teams’ goalies—received penalties.
McGill dominated the game from the start. Just 38 seconds into the opening frame, a clean snipe from third-year forward Samuel Tremblay gave McGill the lead. Tempers ran high, and the occasional post-whistle malice soon escalated into the Ridgebacks taking penalties for slashing, high sticking, and tripping. Although McGill failed to score on their first two power plays, they established a rhythm of solid passing and several close shots. On their third power play, however, the team broke through: Fourth-year forward Christophe Lalonde put the puck over the goal line, and, 31 seconds later, first-year forward Jordan Fournier scored to advance McGill 3-0.
Both McGill and UOIT got physical in the last three minutes of the period, pushing and shoving until second-year forward Keanu Yamamoto masterfully stickhandled through traffic to score yet again. The first period ended 4-0, with 12 shots from McGill compared to just two for the Ridgebacks.
According to Head Coach Kelly Nobes, the team focused on remaining consistent heading into the second period.
“We just talked about keeping the game plan the same as it was,” Nobes said. “We wanted to grind, we wanted to stick with it, and keep pucks going north.”
Throughout the period, McGill played keepaway, frustrating the Ridgebacks’ efforts at a comeback. The home side had promising chances on their single power play, breathing life into the period. However, they could not convert, and eventually gave up a power play goal with 1:22 left in the period.
Emotions ran highest in the final period, but McGill remained in control of the game. About halfway through the period, third-year transfer defenceman Maximilian Daigle increased the score to 5-1 McGill with a slapshot. Tremblay scored for the second time that night with a power play goal shortly after.
With just over five minutes remaining, a major netfront brawl disrupted McGill’s momentum. The scuffle sent two Ridgebacks and two McGill players to the penalty box for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. At this point, McGill eased their pressure and allowed a last-minute goal. However, the Ridgebacks had lost the competition far earlier in the game, and, when the buzzer sounded, McGill was victorious by a score of 6-2.
Going into the game, McGill was determined to win the series on Saturday and avoid a third, winner-take-all match.
“We were really ready in the room,” Tremblay said. “We wanted to finish [the series] right now and not play tomorrow, so it’s a little bit more rest for us [….] It was a good motivation to end this tonight.”
Fourth-year defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi, who celebrated his 25th birthday on game day, wants his team to play against their next opponent with the same intensity that fuelled their win against UOIT.
“We’ve got to keep up with the same energy [and] stick to the structure and I think things should go our way,” Talbot-Tassi said.
McGill will face Carleton in the OUA semifinals.
Moment of the Game
Third-year goalie Louis-Philip Guindon made a spectacular save on the penalty kill during the second period, rolling onto his back to stop the Ridgebacks.
“I think the message was pretty clear in the room that we had to come out strong and impose our tempo, and I think that’s what we did.” –Dominic Talbot-Tassi on the impressive first period start.
Four McGill players—third-year transfer defenceman Nikolas Brouillard, Tremblay, Yamamoto, and Fournier—recorded two or more points in the win.