By CLAUDE SCILLEY
The stirring comeback staged by his team Saturday night meant more to Brett Gibson than the fact that it ultimately fell short.
“You know what?” the coach of the Queen’s Golden Gaels said after his team suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to the Trois-Rivieres Patriotes at the Memorial Centre.
“We just took three of four points from UQTR. How many teams in the league can say that?”
In fact, no one else can say that with respect to the Patriotes, a team with an 18-3-1 record that shares first place in the East division of Ontario University Athletics, and is the No. 5-ranked team in Canada.
When they met eight days previously, the Gaels brought a 4-3 victory home from Trois-Rivieres.
After erasing a two-goal deficit in the final eight and a half minutes of regulation time, the Gaels succumbed to a goal by Guillaume Asselin with 8.1 seconds remaining in the second overtime period.
It’s the second time this year the Gaels, 11-5-1, have surrendered the game-winning goal in the final minute of a game but Gibson was not dismayed, at least not as much as he was the previous night, after a mediocre outing—and three third-period goals—led to a 4-3 loss to Concordia.
“It’s a totally different feeling,” he said. “We were gawd awful in the first period (tonight). I thought we had a pushback in the second period, and in the third period, for the last 10 minutes, we controlled the play.
“Full credit to (the players). We weren’t ready to play tonight. I think we had a little hangover from the night before, in terms of the loss, but when they realized these are important points, for them to get a point here was huge for this program.”
Outshot 24-8 in the first period, Queen’s managed to escape just down a goal, one scored by Pierre-Maxime Poudrier from a scramble in front of the Gaels’ net midway through the period. The teams played a scoreless second period and they endured a 25-minute delay in the game as workers repaired a broken door at the Patriotes bench at the start of the third.
When play resumed both sides appeared lethargic, and when Mathieu Lemay scored in the seventh minute of the period, on an uncontested wraparound, it felt like the Gaels, having mustered fewer than 20 shots to that point—almost all of them from well out—were done.
Rookie Peter Angeopoulos answered five minutes later, however, when he drove a rebound of a shot from the blue line by Spencer Abraham past Patriotes goalkeeper Sebastien Auger for his fourth goal of the year. The Gaels tied the game on a splendid three-way, cross-ice passing play, involving Eric Ming, Abraham and Slater Doggett, who quickly slammed the puck into the net from 15 feet out for his fifth goal; his third in the last five games.
The teams played a scoreless five minutes of four-on-four overtime, during which Queen’s was outshot 5-1 and Gaels goaltender Kevin Bailie robbed Asselin from right wing to prolong the game into a five-minute period of extra time, with three skaters a side.
Three-on-three overtime is not the way a lot of coaches prefer to end a game, and you can count Gibson among those who are not a fan.
“That’s a skills competition,” he said, dismissively, “and we haven’t practised a lot of it, because you don’t get that scenario (very often). You should (practise it), but it’s hard because it’s not something you’re ever going to see in the playoffs, so (is it worthwhile) to take a lot of time to practice it?
“We practice a lot of three-on-three stuff in terms of handing the puck off and exchanges and stuff, which is very similar, but when points are on the line, it’s a different animal altogether.”
On a play very similar to the one on which he was stymied earlier, Asselin converted a two-one-one opportunity for the game-winning goal. For Asselin, it was his league-leading 18th goal of the year.
By the time the game was over, the Gaels had been outshot 57-33.
Queen’s concludes its three-games-in-five-nights homestand Tuesday, when the Carleton Ravens visit the Memorial Centre. Carleton, 14-5 and the ninth-ranked team in Canada, handed No. 2-ranked McGill just its third loss of the year Saturday night, a 6-3 setback that was the Raven’s fifth win in their last six games.
When the teams met previously, in late October, the Gaels pinned a 3-0 defeat on the Ravens, in a game where Darcy Greenaway had a goal and an assist for Queen’s and Bailie made 38 saves for the shutout.