Queen’s Golden Gaels are headed back to Oshawa Sunday for the deciding game of their first-round Ontario University Athletics hockey playoff series with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
The Gaels failed to put away the best-of-three East division quarter-final at home when they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Ridgebacks Friday night at the Memorial Centre.
Queen’s, which won Wednesday’s series opener in Oshawa in overtime, lost Friday’s game the same way, when Tech’s Ryan Doucette scored just 22 seconds into the extra period.
Doucette’s goal, on which Kingston native Ben Blasko drew an assist, spoiled what had been a marvelous comeback by the Gaels, who entered the third period trailing 3-0, a circumstance that belied what had been a promising start.
The Gaels looked to be in a good spot when Tech’s Alex Yuill drew a major penalty for charging five minutes into the game. Instead, they frittered the opportunity away by taking two minor penalties that effectively killed most of their own advantage, and they gave up the game’s first goal while the teams were skating four a side near the end of it.
Queen’s then went on to be outshot 20-3 and the period ended with the Ridgebacks sporting a 2-0 lead. Tech, again outshooting the home side, scored the only goal of the second period and appeared to be in command going into the third.
Apparently suitably embarrassed by their performance, the Gaels came to life and Darcy Greenaway lifted Queen’s back into the game with a pair of goals just 54 second apart, the first on a power play at 7:46. Shawn Boudreau scored the tying goal at 16:30 when he tapped a loose puck into the Tech net after Ridgebacks goalie Brendan O’Neill failed to smother the puck after stopping a shot by Patrick McGillis.
The freshman Doucette, an eight-goal scorer during the regular year, scored on the only shot of overtime.
Jason Shaw, Blasko and Mark Petaccio scored the other goals for Tech. It was the second goal in four games for Blasko.
“We didn't start well enough, and at this level you can’t play 20 minutes of hockey and expect to win,” Gaels coach Brett Gibson said, in a release. “Our focus wasn’t there and (Tech) was a desperate hockey team.
“Now we have two desperate hockey teams … two really evenly matched teams (and) it’s going to come down to who wants it more. I have a lot of confidence in this group of kids that they will bounce back.”
Overtime has been something that has stuck to the Gaels like gum on a shoe the last few weeks. Six of their last seven games have gone into extra time, and Queen’s is 2-4 in those games. The Gaels are 3-5 this year in overtime, and three of their four games with Tech have required more than the regulation 60 minutes.
Tech is no stranger to overtime, either. The Ridgebacks’ last four games have gone into overtime, and five of their last eight. They’re 3-2 in those games; 4-3 overall this year beyond the third period.
Oddly, by losing the Gaels might have the Ridgebacks right where they want them. The visitor has won each of the four games they’ve played in the regular season and playoffs.
Not only that, consider what post-season road warriors the Gaels have been: A year ago, Queen’s won its first-round playoff series by winning two games at Laurentian after dropping the series opener at home. In 2014, the Gaels won their first-round series opener in Ottawa, and after sweeping that series, got their only win in the second round at Carleton.
In the regular year this year, Queen’s was 7-7 at home; 10-4 on the road.
The other side of that coin is disappointing, however. In the last seven years, Queen’s is 1-8 in the post-season at home.
The Gaels might also want to find a way to get themselves some breathing room. Of their 30 games, regular season and playoffs, 17 were decided by a goal. The Gaels are 8-9 in those games, and if you include the three games where the opponent scored into an empty net, all the games Queen’s has lost this year have been by just a goal.
Game time Sunday afternoon is 3:30 p.m.