With thunderous chants of “McGill once, McGill twice” echoing in McConnell Arena, the McGill Redmen faced off against the No.6 ranked UQTR Patriotes for the annual Management Carnival Game on Jan. 16. Riding a continuous tidal wave of enthusiasm from the students, McGill managed to prevail in an exciting 4-2 victory.
From the opening faceoff, it was immediately apparent that both teams were determined to put up a tough fight. The two squads got tangled up almost immediately, as off-setting roughing penalties were called just thirty seconds into the game. The game’s physicality did not abate throughout the first period, as ten penalties were called in the initial frame alone.
“Both [teams] have players that played against each other all our lives,” third-year forward Benoit Levesque said. “We’ve got a lot of players [from Montreal], and it’s always been a big rivalry. Tonight was no different.”
McGill’s special teams effort was key in their first period success. UQTR received two penalties with just under six minutes remaining, granting the Redmen a great opportunity to take the lead. Right winger David Rose capitalized in front of the net for McGill’s first goal. The Redmen tallied another goal shortly after, thanks to first-year defenceman Guillaume Monast’s slap shot, which flew past UQTR goaltender Marc-Antoine Gelinas.
The Redmen offence was relentless in the first period—they maintained control of the puck in the Patriotes’ zone with hard, fast play, and dominated the boards on puck cycles. Aggressive attacks coupled with a fantastic showing from fifth-year goalie Hubert Morin left the Redmen with a 2-0 advantage at the end of the frame.
Unfortunately, McGill was unable to keep up the same level of play in the second period. The Patriotes came out looking energized, and took advantage of the Redmen’s fatigue to control the pace of the game. Midway through the second period, Patriotes’ forward Tommy Tremblay scored to cut McGill’s lead to one. Although the Redmen picked up their pace towards the end of the period, a shot by the Patriotes’ Emmanual Boudreau found the back of the net, after being redirected off of a McGill blueliner to tie the game.
Redmen Head Coach Kelly Nobes was not pleased with his team’s effort in the second period.
“We got a little bit caught in the second period, not moving our feet and not skating. And when we’re not moving our feet … we’re reacting instead of dictating what’s happening,” Coach Nobes said after the game.
With the game knotted up entering the final frame, the Redmen picked up their pace. Quick off the faceoff, Levesque broke away from the Patriotes defence and dished the puck to centre Marc-Olivier Vachon, who buried home a quick goal to give McGill the lead just a minute in. For much of the rest of the period, the puck went back and forth, with most offensive attempts thwarted by airtight defence on both ends. In a last-ditch effort to equalize, the Patriotes pulled Gelinas to add another skater with three minutes left in the period. Redmen right-winger Max Le Sieur capitalized on the empty net to increase the lead to 4-2, sealing the win for the Redmen.
The Patriotes were victorious, in the last meeting between the squads a few months ago, coming away 3-1, but Nobes stressed his team’s positive development since then.
“We’ve evolved a ton since then. This is such a young team. The season is a process of getting better every day,” Coach Nobes said.
The Redmen won their fourth straight game on Friday night, on the road against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. They will take on the Patriotes for the final time in the regular season in Trois-Rivières on Jan. 22.