Going into the opening game of the playoffs without seven regular players is never any hockey team’s dream scenario.
Not only did the Queen’s Golden Gaels withstand such hardship Wednesday night in Oshawa, they got a key contribution from one of their spare parts, when little used freshman Henry Thompson scored at 17:14 of sudden-death overtime to give the Gaels a 4-3 victory over the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks, and a one-game lead in the best-of-three East division quarter-final series.
Queen’s can wrap up the series Friday night, when they’ll host Game 2 at the Memorial Centre at 7:30.
The Gaels got the only goal of the first period, by Patrick McGillis and the team’s second power-play goal of the game, by Slater Doggett, gave the visitors a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. It took less that two seconds for Tech to answer, with a goal by Cameron Yull, and the Ridgebacks trailed by just a goal going into the third period.
An unassisted shorthanded goal by Ryan Bloom restored the two-goal Queen’s lead in the eighth minute of the third period but Tech, outshooting the Gaels 13-11, once again drew within a goal at 14:57, and then, with goaltender Brendan O’Neill pulled in favour of a sixth skater, the Ridgebacks tied the game with 37 seconds left in the period when Jesse Stoughton deflected a shot from the blue line past Queen's goalie Kevin Bailie.
That set the stage for Thompson, the former Whitby Fury junior from Oshawa, who collected his first intercollegiate point in what was just his fifth game for Queen’s.
He was pressed into duty with forwards Blair Wentworth, Jordan Coccimiglio, Andrew Wiebe and Alex Stothart all lost to the team for the remainder of the season. The Gaels also played without veteran defenemen Patrick Downe and Spencer Abraham, both injured, and rookie defenceman Steve Trojanovic, who was serving a one-game suspension that automatically attached to a game misconduct he received in the final game of the regular season Saturday against Laurentian.
As a result, Queen’s dressed just five defencemen in a corps that included two rookies and a second-year man.
Bloom, with his sixth goal in his last six games, also had two assists. He’s collected 14 points in his last seven games.
Bailie made 34 saves, including six in overtime. The Gaels, who split the regular season series with Tech—winning in Oshawa but losing at home—were outshot 37-33.