Team sets tone for season with solid win over OUA champs at Minto
On Sept. 18, the Gee-Gees men’s hockey team hit the ice at home in the Minto Sports Complex for the first time in over two years.
The mark of a rebuilt team with plenty to look forward to was the Gees rebounding from a close overtime loss to McGill with a 4-3 win in their home debut.
Coming into the game, defenceman Mike Poirier said that the Gee-Gees envision themselves as “a hardworking team that wants to prove that they can play in this league.”
The team did just that when they took on Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), a team that won the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship Queen’s Cup last year. The Gees were led by former NHL draft pick goaltender Anthony Brodeur, who got the start against the UQTR Patriotes.
The Gee-Gees got off to a shaky start as UQTR scored 18 seconds into the game on a two-on-one breakaway.
Ottawa had multiple opportunities throughout the first period to even the score, but they were unable to capitalize as the Patriotes weathered the storm.
The Gees had a four-on-three power play chance pass by as they were unable to get any good scoring chances and looked disoriented at times. Brodeur made a few key stops in the first frame to keep his team in the game, bouncing back from letting in the first shot of the game.
Centre Mathieu Newcomb opened the scoring for the Gees, sneaking a well-placed shot inside the post on the glove side.
Following the game-tying goal, the Patriotes countered with a burst of energy, which put the Gee-Gees on their heels. Brodeur came up big again as he made a great stop off of a UQTR slap shot from the point.
The big save sparked the young squad as veteran defenceman Gabriel Vermette, the only returning player from the 2013-14 year, scored from the point to give the Gees their first lead of the game.
At 36 seconds into the third period, the Patriotes squeaked a goal in from the corner. Defenceman Anthony Beaulieu responded immediately for the Gee-Gees after a scramble in front of the net to give his team the lead back.
The pace of game picked up midway through the third as the Patriotes started to press the Gees harder. The Gee-Gees countered with a crash to the net, leading to right winger Antoine Pouliot firing home a rebound to give the team a 4-2 lead with seven minutes remaining.
UQTR scored after pulling their goalie in the waning seconds of the game. However, this goal would be as close as they would get as the Gee-Gees officially picked up their first win at home in two years.
Despite it only being an exhibition matchup, the win speaks volumes to the quality of team the Gee-Gees can expect to be this year. It’s no small feat to come out and defeat the OUA champion in only their second preseason game.
For the players, the prospect of excelling in fast-approaching regular season is enticing, but they have to remain levelheaded in their preparations.
“We hope to take it game by game,” said Poirier. “(The goal is) to bring intensity every game and hopefully the results will follow suit. We want to bring a good presence on the ice.”
With results like the win over UQTR, it’s clear that the team has the potential to exceed expectations in the program reboot.
The Gee-Gees’ next home exhibition matches will be with the OUA west division’s Windsor Lancers and the AHL’s Binghamton Senators on Sept. 23 and 30 at 7 and 7:30 p.m., respectively, at the Minto Sports Complex.