ON JAN. 8, the Gee-Gees (12-7-1) took on division rivals at the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (9-6-3) at the Minto Sports Complex in the Gees’ first home game since Dec. 3. Despite the game being the Gees’ third in five days, the University of Ottawa team managed to come out on top, 2-1, before heading into a well-deserved, five-day break in their schedule.
The Gee-Gees began the game on a strong note, winning the opening face-off while letting the Varsity Blues make mistakes that resulted in penalties for the visitors. Ottawa capitalized on a power play to open the scoring with 8:47 left in the first period, when third-year defender Patrick Burns buried the puck in the net with assists by fifth-year forward Maxime Chamberland and second-year defender Dominic Jalbert.
“It was kind of a broken play, five-on-three,” said Burns. “Dominic made a nice pass and I just had the whole net. It was a pretty easy one.”
Just one minute later, the Gee-Gees broadened the gap, when second-year forward Kyle Ireland beat the Blues’ goalie with a top shelf backhand shot.
The second period saw the two teams’ aggressiveness come to a head, when multiple scrums resulted in penalties for both the Gees and the Blues. In the middle of a four-on-four, with 6:39 left in the period, a shot from Toronto found the back of the Gees’ net.
“We took some bad penalties; we made some bad decisions with the puck and without the puck,” said Ottawa’s head coach, Réal Paiement. “Is that because we were tired? I don’t know, but it was a good thing we got those two goals early.”
Although the third period remained heated, no goals were scored. as The home team stood up to the pressure from the Blues even when they pulled their goalie during the dying minutes. The final buzzer sounded with the Gees on top, 2-1.
Of note was the large number of penalties in the game, with 30 infractions being called and a total of 99 penalty minutes.
“It sure takes away from the momentum,” said Paiement. “I think both teams did very well on the penalty kill, and got chances on the power plays, but just couldn’t connect the way that I think both teams would have preferred.”
With eight games remaining in the regular season, Paiement said the team is optimistic about their challenging final stretch.
“We’re comfortable with where we’re at,” stated Paiement. “We know that other teams in our division have so-called weaker schedules, but I think it’s the best preparation for us for the playoffs, because in the playoffs we’re going to be meeting good teams night after night.”
The Gee-Gees’ next game will be Jan. 13, when they will be hosted by the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes (14-5-1).