The Redmen played their last home games of the regular season this past weekend, and the result was a 1-1 split. The team came out flat Friday night and fell to the Concordia Stingers in a stunning 4-2 upset, but were able to right the ship on Saturday in a closely fought 4-3 win over the Carleton Ravens.
This season marks the fourth time in McGill history that the Redmen reached the 20-win plateau, and the second season in a row the team could finish first in the RSEQ division following last year’s 24-win, 50-point performance.
The weekend began with McGill hosting the Concordia Stingers (13-10-2), who are fighting to remain in the playoff race. McGill started strong and Marc-Andre Dorion scored the first goal with 39 seconds remaining in the period. Concordia came back to tie it in the second period with a powerplay goal on a slashing penalty from Marc-Andre Daneau, his first of three minors throughout the game.
The third period saw McGill play very undisciplined hockey, and they paid a steep price for their mistakes. Thanks to two tripping penalties to Picard-Hooper and Daneau 48 seconds apart, Concordia took the lead with two quick powerplay goals 32 seconds apart midway through the frame, making the score 3-1. McGill’s Francis Verreault-Paul, the team’s leading scorer (T-third in goals scored in the league), tallied with less than five minutes left to the game, but the Redmen’s comeback was stifled when Concordia’s Michael Stinziani scored an empty netter, putting the game out of reach for the home team.
“Their goaltending was really strong I think, and we weren’t able to solve them,” Head Coach Kelly Nobes said. “After they took the lead, I still felt like we were coming off strong, we had good net-front presence, we were getting good scoring opportunities. Overall, I don’t think it was a poor performance, it was just a game where we didn’t get the bounces in the right areas.”
Saturday’s game against the Carleton Ravens capped what has been an exciting series between the two teams all season, as McGill won the rubber match of the three-game series. McGill once again came out strong, this time notching three goals by Jean-Francois Boisvert, Alex Picard-Hooper, and Francis Verreault-Paul to end the first 20 minutes leading 3-0.
It was a heated second period as both teams received three minor penalties, but neither team could profit from the man advantage. Carleton struck first in the period, but McGill captain Evan Vossen scored what proved to be the game-winning fourth goal for the Redmen late in the second to end the stanza 4-1.
“We had a real good start, I felt like we were really moving our feet in the first 40 minutes,” Nobes explained. “We were up 3-0 because we were moving our feet, we were driving the middle land and had good net-front presence. We were also strong in the second period.”
The Ravens came alive in the third period, suddenly remembering that this game was crucial to their path to the playoffs. McGill also played another undisciplined period of hockey, racking up eight more penalty minutes, while Carleton focused on getting the puck on the net. The Ravens’ strategy proved much wiser as they scored two powerplay goals in the first five minutes of the period to cut McGill’s lead down to one. However, the Redmens’ goaltender Hubert Morin put on a goaltending masterclass for the rest of the period in order to keep McGill in the game, stopping 33 of the 36 shots he faced in total and leading the team to their 20th win of the season. “In the third period we took our foot off the gas a little bit, which we weren’t happy about because we want to play a full 60 minutes,” said Nobes. “Overall though, it was a good effort for us.”