The UQTR Patriotes entered McConnell Arena on a two-game win streak, and continued their hot start to the season on Saturday night against the McGill Redbirds.
McGill was able to seize momentum early, drawing a slashing penalty on UQTR forward Vincent Milot-Ouellet just a few minutes into the first frame. However, the powerplay unit was unable to convert the timely opportunity. Unfortunately, this has been a recurring pattern for the Redbirds early in the season, as McGill has only scored on one out of 15 powerplays this year, ranking close to last in the OUA.
Just minutes after the unsuccessful power play, McGill took a penalty of their own. The Redbirds’ penalty kill unit held strong again, stopping the UQTR man advantage. McGill’s unit is the best in the OUA currently, having successfully shut out 18 of the last 19 opponent power plays.
This late-period momentum bolstered the Patriotes going into the second period, as just five minutes into the frame, UQTR defenceman Justin Bergeron capitalized on a McGill turnover, scoring a tap-in and doubling the Patriotes’ lead.
Defenceman Jacob Golden, a rookie from Toronto who most recently played for the OHL’s London Knights, believed the team played well during the crucial few minutes before the two UQTR goals but was unable to convert chances compared to UQTR.
“They got a good break on the first goal as we had a bit of breakdown that they capitalized on,” Golden said. “They are a good team so you don’t want to be giving them a lead. Even when we were down 2-0 we had sustained pressure in their zone, but we could just not find the back of the net.”
Late in the period, McGill had an opportunity to cut the lead in half following a UQTR penalty. On the ensuing power play, the Redbirds created multiple scoring chances, notably a shot from the high slot that looked like it went in, but did not cross the goalline according to the referee.
Despite not scoring on the man advantage, the momentum seemed to have finally swung in the home team’s favour. Any comeback attempt was quickly squashed by a Redbird penalty with just five seconds left in the second, sending UQTR to the power play again to start the third period.
Although the final frame did not present a miraculous comeback from the Redbirds, the home crowd had something to cheer for. With six minutes left and UQTR up 3-0, McGill rookie Eric Uba scored amongst a scrum in front of the net, putting the lone McGill goal of the night on the board.
The Redbirds started the season strong with a 3-2 win against Concordia, but have dropped their last three contests to OUA opponents Ottawa, Carleton, and UQTR. The team has two important home-and-away matchups against Concordia and Ottawa at the end of November.
Looking ahead to the upcoming stretch, Golden highlighted the group’s perseverance and the return of some key players, including Redbirds captain Samuel Tremblay.
“The next few games are really important,” Golden said. “We are definitely looking to get back in the win column next weekend. I think if we maintain our compete level and clean up some small details of our game, we will have success. Getting back some key players from injury, such as our captain, Sam, will definitely help.”
McGill hosts rival Concordia this Friday, Nov. 19, meeting for the first time since a thrilling shootout finish at Concordia in the OUA season opener.
Moment of the Game:
First-year defenceman Gabriel Villeneuve blocked two shots on a McGill penalty kill to keep the Redbirds in the game.
“The last few games we have been a little snake bitten. I think despite the result, our team will use the positive aspects of the performance to build off for the upcoming weekend” – Second-year defenceman Jacob Golden
The Redbirds killed all four UQTR power plays, increasing their OUA leading penalty kill efficiency to 94.7 per cent.