Nationally fourth ranked McGill too much for the Gees down the stretch

After finishing with a remarkable 15-8-5 record in their first season back from a two year hiatus, the Gee-Gees Men’s Hockey team had much bigger expectations this year as their young freshmen now had a year under their belt. However, a much tougher schedule in 2017-18 as they were set to play more games against McGill, Concordia, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) and Carleton, would lead to a slightly better record at 16-8-4.

“The fact that we did a little better than last year in a tougher division, with tougher matchups, is something that we are really proud of,” said assistant coach Christian Gaudet on the Gees’ regular season.

Despite only losing one graduating player, the Gees did well to improve their team, adding their captain Eric Locke, who was the most productive Gee-Gee in points per game, with 22 points in 19 games.

Gaudet, a former captain at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) level and the U Sports level, touched on what he saw from Locke. “He did a good job by leading by example, doing the right things in practice and the game.”

With new weapons added to the arsenal, head coach Patrick Grandmaître looked to start his second season at the helm with a win against cross-town rivals, the Carleton Ravens, but they eventually fell 6-5 in overtime in what was an exciting game, to say the very least. The Gees would have to wait to get their redemption against the Ravens, but they would indeed succeed.

One of the Gee-Gees’ two four-game losing streaks happened before Christmas, and in a short season of 28 games, you can’t have too many of those. At the break the Gee-Gees held a 8-5-2 record. Despite this, they had big wins against McGill at home and Carleton on the road at the Colonel By Classic.

The best string of the Garnet and Grey’s season happened at the tail end, with five straight winning games, two of which were against perennial members of the U Sports top 10 rankings, Queen’s and Concordia.

With five straight wins for the Gees down the stretch, they showed promise for a potential long playoff run.

“I think it’s just really good for the program, just because they’re a well-respected team in the community and in the league,” said Gaudet on the first round series win. “Playing them and beating them in the first-round, I think, will really help our program.”

Despite bringing in an incredible amount of momentum into the first round against the Ravens, the Gees couldn’t neglect their poor 1-2-1 record. The first game went down to the wire, with the Gees ultimately losing 3-2 in an extra period. But they responded incredibly, with 30 saves by Anthony Brodeur and two goals and an assist for their leading point-getter in the regular season, Cody Drover.

The same faces stepped up for the University of Ottawa in their 4-2 series clinching win, Drover with two goals and an assist, and Brodeur with 38 saves. Brodeur’s stellar play throughout the series was a huge factor as he outplayed his counterpart from the Ravens.

After a huge series win, the Gees prepared to face the nationally fourth ranked McGill Redmen. The Garnet and Grey came away with a thrilling 3-2 win on the road to open the season; even after starter Brodeur came down with an injury, backup Graham Hunt came in with a stellar game to showcase their depth. Unfortunately, the following game did not go as planned for the Gees as they lost by a combined score of 10-4.

The Gees took another step in the right direction, and losing to a well-established McGill program is not something to be ashamed of.