The McGill Redmen had a busy Homecoming weekend, facing off against two OUA East division foes. On Friday night, the Redmen’s slow start to the season continued, falling to Ottawa 4-2, and placing them at 0-3-0 on the year. This changed on Saturday night, when McGill (1-3-0) overcame a 2-0 Carleton Ravens lead to win its first game of the season, 6-4.
Carleton (0-1-1) came out firing and scored just 30 seconds into the first period. The Ravens were quick to the puck and strong defensively throughout the first frame. They blocked a number of Redmen shots, and looked like the more determined team. Carleton then scored again 12 minutes into the period, but McGill answered with its own tally just over a minute later, when the puck swung around to third-year defenceman Ryan McKiernan on the weak side, who fired the puck into the net.
The Redmen turned on the heat in the second period, scoring two goals in the first two minutes. Third-year forward Benoit Levesque slapped the puck past Ravens’ netminder Francis Dupuis to tie up the game, while Hugo Laporte continued the fierce attack by deflecting a shot into the net. McGill continued this pace throughout the second frame, creating a number of strong scoring chances. This culminated with another goal off the stick of first-year winger Max Le Sieur, bringing the scoring to 4-2 in favour of McGill.
Head Coach Kelly Nobes was very pleased with McGill’s perseverance, despite the team’s slow start.
“I think it’s a credit to our will and effort level that we chipped away at it and … got the lead back and held it for the rest of the game,” Nobes said.
The third period was definitely more physical, as both teams looked to set the pace. Carleton’s effort was far from over, and they dished out big hits and fired as many point shots as possible against Redmen goaltender Andrew Flemming. However, McGill’s chances paid off, as Jonathan Brunelle scored his third goal of the season, potting home a rebound off of Dupuis, and extending the Redmen lead to 5-2.
However, the large lead was short-lived, as the Ravens answered with two goals of their own, each within two minutes of Brunelle’s tally. Carleton’s intensity picked up, but the Ravens were called for a costly hooking penalty with just 10 minutes to go, giving McGill a powerplay opportunity. McKiernan took advantage and scored his second goal of the game, all but sealing McGill’s 6-4 victory.
Marc-Olivier Vachon, a second-year centre who assisted McGill’s last goal of the game, was happy with the progress the team made from the first period.
“I think we had a slow start but we bounced back pretty well,” Vachon said. “After that 2-0 lead, we pushed the pace and we scored a couple goals, and it was [on] the powerplay where we won the game.”
Two-goal scorer McKiernan was also pleased his team’s effort.
“I think we played Redmen hockey for sixty minutes and we got a good effort from the whole team today, which was really important,” he said.
Moving forward, however, McKiernan made it clear that the team still has a lot of work to do if it wants to become a serious division title contender.
“We are focusing on more cohesion. We are still relatively a young team, but we’re getting there,” he continued. “It’s a process and this is just one step in making things register.”
Coach Nobes noted that the first victory of the year is huge for his young Redmen team.
“Hopefully, it will give us some confidence and belief [for the rest of the season].”
The Redmen play exhibition matches against Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend during their short NCAA tour in the United States, before coming back home to battle Queen’s on Oct. 24.