Drover and Domingue connect twice to secure win for Gees over Ridgebacks
The Gee-Gees men’s hockey team was back on the ice Sunday afternoon for their decisive matchup with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. Wearing their garnets, the Gees looked to punch their ticket to the OUA East semifinals for a matchup with the Trois-Rivieres Patriotes later this week.
Both teams had early powerplays as Tech’s Josh McGuire and Gees’ Marc Beckstead were respectively called on goalie interference and high sticking. Both teams’ penalty kills were on their game and easily managed to kill off their team’s two-minute penalties.
Both goalies were sharp early on, making nice saves on shots coming off the rush. Domenic Graham stood tall on Austin Eastman when he cut in and took a backhand shot while Leif Hertz took a Michael Poirier one-timer right to the crest to keep the score tied at zero.
“I think we really buckled down on defence and gave them no time and space and it was easy for me to see the shots and to handle them, hats off to the defence,” said a humble Graham, who saved all 25 shots he faced on Sunday.
With seven minutes left in the first frame, Beckstead found sophomore Kyle Ward open in the slot from behind the net who rifled a shot past Hertz’s blocker side to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead.
“It was huge to get that first goal, and especially from that line. Beckstead has been struggling with a groin injury (and) Ward hasn’t played center in a long time,” said Gees head coach Patrick Grandmaitre. “it’s huge when you get a hardworking goal from your third or fourth line, it generates so much momentum on the bench”
A couple of minutes later, a late attempt at taking a rebound by Gee-Gees Adam Beveridge led to a fight between heavyweights Connor Sills and Kyle Locke, who both received five minutes and stayed in the game as they kept their gloves and helmets on.
With 50 seconds left, Ottawa’s Daniel Hardie took a tripping penalty. Looking at a crucial penalty kill straight in the eyes, Ottawa was lucky as right off the face-off Quinn O’Brien was tripped by Tech’s Noah McMullin, making it a four-on-four situation to close out the period.
The Gee-Gees headed to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
Ridgebacks’ J.C Thivierge took an early penalty in the second to send the Gees to the powerplay. The horses were unable to capitalize, but right after the powerplay, Jacob Hanlon attempted a shot-pass to the front of the net on a rush, hitting Poirier going straight to the net which sent the puck up in the air in a knuckling fashion to give Ottawa a 2-0 lead.
The Gees headed back to the powerplay on the next shift thanks to a bad cross-checking penalty by Tech’s Pierre Luc Lurette. The Gee-Gees this time found the back of the net on the powerplay. Medric Mercier scored his third goal in two games off a rebound given by Hertz to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead.
Ridgebacks head coach Curtis Hodgins pulled Hertz in favour of Michael Bullion. Hertz saved 14 saves on 17 shots, finishing the night with a .823 save percentage.
The goalie swap didn’t change much for the Ridgebacks, as minutes later Cody Drover found Kevin Domingue on the backdoor to give Ottawa a 4-0 lead late in the second period.
“I’m so happy to have had a guy like Drover on my line for four years now,” said Kevin Domingue. “As much as he makes my life easy, I make his and he completes me a lot, so I’m just happy to play with a guy like that.”
Hostilities escalated again late in the second period. Jacob Sweeney and Nicolas Tardif got in a tussle as the rest of the players all held each other back, barking insults back and forth.
The Gee-Gees came back in force in the third period, Domingue scored his second of the game six minutes into the frame. The Laval native received a nice trailing pass from longtime linemate Drover and sniped the puck top corner on Bullion to make it 5-0.
The goal killed any drive the Ridgebacks might have had in the third period and led to some pretty uninspired hockey from the Ontario Tech team. Ridgebacks players showed multiple signs of frustration in the last minutes, often smashing their sticks after a broken play or shouting out a loud expletive after a save from Graham.
In the end, Ottawa skated away with the game and the series, winning 5-0 and moving to face UQTR in the second round.
“They have the best offence in the league, so we’re gonna have to lock it down on defence and in net,” said Grandmaitre about his team’s next opponent.
Times and locations for the games have yet to be announced but a Gee-Gees staffer told the Fulcrum that the series should start Wednesday night at the Minto Sports Complex. UQTR does, however, have a home-ice advantage.