By CLAUDE SCILLEY
For a while there, things were looking pretty good for the Queen’s Golden Gaels. Twice they’d come back from a one-goal deficit to tie their hockey game Friday night, and when they scored twice in a span of 90 seconds in the third period, they went ahead.
Then things kind of fell apart.
The Concordia Stingers, a team that began the day five games below .500—and five points behind the Gaels, despite having played four more games—scored the next two goals, and that allowed them to leave the Memorial Centre with a 4-3 Ontario University Athletics victory.
A gathering far less numerous than the official tally of 250 spectators watched a three-game Queen’s win streak come to an end.
It was a bitter defeat for the Gaels, who began a stretch of three games in five days that doesn’t get any easier from here. Saturday night, Queen’s will host the No. 5-ranked Trois-Rivieres Patriotes. Then comes a date Tuesday with the Carleton Ravens, the ninth-ranked team in the country.
Of the three, then, the Concordia game would have been the most likely contest from which to extract a victory, especially when you throw in the detail that the last time the teams met, Queen’s prevailed 4-0.
To complete the picture of misery, the Gaels not only didn’t blow a third-period lead in that game, they put the game away with three unanswered third-period goals.
Let’s just say that when Queen’s coach Brett Gibson described the outcome as “disappointing,” he was perhaps at his diplomatic best.
“We deserved to lose,” he said. “They didn’t outplay us. We made the mistakes that allowed them to beat us.”
Concordia had the better of the play in the first period, one that ended with neither team having scored. The Stingers scored first, in the game’s 30th minute, but then the Gaels started to take over, and Eric Ming scored on a rebound six minutes later to tie the score.
It was the fifth straight game in which Ming has scored a goal, and it was his seventh goal in that span.
Despite being outshot 35-15 at that point, the Gaels escaped the second period with a share of a 1-1 tie. Concordia went ahead early in the third period when Raphael Lafontaine was left alone in front of Queen’s goaltender Kevin Bailie. Spencer Abraham’s floating wrist shot found its way through a screen and Concordia netminder Robin Billingham a minute and a half later to tie the score, and Alex Stothart fired home the rebound of a Joseph Luongo shot from the blue line to give Queen’s its first lead of the game at 7:42.
That advantage lasted less than two minutes, however, only until Concordia's Scott Oke blew down right wing, past two defenders, for a clear shot at Bailie from 20 feet. The game-winner came four minutes later, when Lafontaine scored on a low shot from the blue line.
Lafontaine’s second goal of the game was just his fourth of the year and they were his first goals since Nov. 6.
The Gaels mustered not a lot of pressure to the end of the game, despite lifting Bailie for an extra skater in the final 40 seconds.
After the game, Gibson was smarting not only from the loss, but the nature of the goals that led to it.
“In the third period, the first goal, we always say no one behind us, but someone gets behind us and they score. The next goal, we talk about tracking the puck, and if you’ve got the puck, tell the blue line to keep with him, (but) we don’t stay with him, and we don’t get a save. The fourth goal we lose a clean faceoff and we don’t get in the shooting lane and it goes right through our goalie.”
Those errors erased any good feelings that could have come from the way the Gaels kept rallying throughout the game.
“I wasn’t too nervous because usually when we get a 3-2 lead in the third period, we do the right things,” Gibson said, “but we did absolutely the wrong things and it wasn’t first-year guys who made the mistakes. It was veteran guys who should know better.
“I’m disappointed. I thought we were good for two periods playing rope-a-dope hockey against a team that likes to run and gun, and we got out-gunned, plain and simple.
“If we had ended the game 3-2 I would have been happy because I think we outplayed that hockey team, but we gave up too many scoring chances, and we didn’t get a save when we’re used to getting that save. That’s just one of those things, I guess.”
In Montreal, the Royal Military College Paladins, coming off back-to-back wins at Laurentian last weekend, flirted with an upset of the McGill Redmen, the nation’s second-ranked team, before ultimately bowing 3-1.
RMC scored the only goal of the first period, John Livingston’s fifth of the year, and the game was tied 1-1 until the Redmen scored two power-play goals, 69 seconds apart, in the final three minutes of the third period. The first of those goals came with McGill enjoying a two-man advantage.
Liam Heells, Samuel Labrecque and Daniel Milne scored for McGill, which outshot RMC 38-23.
The loss was the second bitter defeat for RMC against the Redmen this season. In December, the Paladins stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game with three third-period goals, only to lose the game when McGill scored with two and a half minutes remaining in the game.
The Paladins are now off until Saturday, Jan. 23, when they host the U.S. Military Academy at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.