By CLAUDE SCILLEY
It took the Queen’s Golden Gaels a long time to acquire the requisite sense of urgency necessary to win their hockey game Tuesday night.
Just a wee bit too long.
The Gaels were going nowhere in the third period of their Ontario University Athletics game with the Carleton Ravens at the Memorial Centre. They trailed by three goals with 10 minutes and were full value for it.
Out of nowhere, it seemed, Queen’s got the energy to stage a comeback. They scored two goals six minutes apart to make a game of it, and poured pressure on the Ravens after that. Despite peppering the Carleton goal with 19 shots in the final 10 minutes of the game, the Gaels couldn’t avoid a 3-2 defeat.
It was the second time in two games against a nationally ranked opponent that the Gaels somehow pulled some spirited play out of mediocrity at the end of a game they appeared well on their way to lose, only to fall short by the narrowest of margins.
“That makes us even more angry,” Gaels coach Brett Gibson said. “That’s two games in a row, against top-eight teams in the country, that we played maybe 10 minutes each game and found a way get back into hockey games.
“Can you imagine if we played 50 minutes and had 10 minutes of bad hockey? When you play UQTR and Carleton, you’ve got to play 60 minutes. We didn’t even play 30, so we deserved the loss, but the positive side of it is if that’s the best those two teams have, and we’ve lost 3-2 and 3-2 and played 20 minutes, I think there’s a bright future for us.”
Carleton got a goal and an assist from Mitch Zion as it improved to 15-5, good for third place in the East division standings. Michael McNamee, with his 14th goal of the year, and Ryan Van Stralen, with his 13th, had given the Ravens a 2-0 first period lead and when Zion scored early in the third, left alone to the left of Gaels goaltender Kevin Bailie. At that point, it appeared Queen’s would bow meekly.
Instead came the rally, as Spencer Abraham scored on a power play in the game’s 52nd minute, when his wrist shot from the blue line eluded Ravens goaltender Patrick Killeen. Then Ryan Bloom scored off a scramble, lifting the puck over a fallen Killeen from the left side of the net with 2:19 to play.
Queen’s lifted Bailie for a sixth skater at that point but despite buzzing the Carleton net, the Gaels could not net the game-tying goal.
Slow starts are not a recipe for success, Gibson said.
“We were known as a team that comes out fast, but we haven’t had a lead in a long time," he said. "If you’re spotting UQTR and Carleton leads like that, it’s tough to come back when you’re chasing all game. The positive thing is if we ever start the way we finish, we’ll win, but we’re not into it right off the bat.
"We’re going to have to change something. You could see body language was an issue with some of our guys. Our top players are playing really well but our role players need to find their games.”
For the first two periods, the Gaels were unable to sustain any pressure in the Carleton end of the rink. Outshot 28-17 in the first 40 minutes, Queen’s would get into the Ravens’ zone for a shot and the play would immediately come back out.
“They were skating circles around us and we were just watching the game,” Gibson said. “Once we realized that we’re supposed to be a fast team as well, we started getting on them.”
For the Gaels, now 11-6-1, it was their third loss in succession, as they ended a three-games-in-five-days homestand with just one point. They remain in fifth place in the East division, two points behind Ontario Tech with two games in hand.
Outshot 41-32 in the game, they’ll try and regain the winning touch this weekend, when they travel to northern Ontario for games Friday night at Laurentian and Saturday at Nipissing.