Men’s Hockey (16-8-4 OUA)
The uOttawa men’s hockey team played their regular season finale on Saturday, narrowly beating the Nipissing Lakers 3-2 in a penalty-filled affair at the uOttawa Minto Sports Complex
Team leading scorer and first star of the game Guillaume Donovan had a goal and an assist and Luc Olivier Blain scored the game-winning goal on the power play as the Gee-Gees won their fifth straight.
The five-game winning streak is the best in the OUA East and the garnet and grey’s longest of the season. After starting 2013 in disappointing fashion, the Gee-Gees appear to have hit their stride at the right time.
“We had to battle for our last four games, and tonight was the type of game that prepares you for what’s coming up,” said Gee-Gee head coach Réal Paiement. “One of our goals that we identified was getting into the playoffs with momentum, and I think we managed to do that.”
It was a battle of the special team units on Saturday night, with the two teams combining for 56 penalty minutes on 20 infractions. The Gee-Gees got the better of the Lakers though, scoring on two of seven power play opportunities while only surrendering one to Nipissing.
“I think tonight was a good example that the guys have already made the switch,” Paiement said of his team’s transition to the playoff mentality. “I think we shifted towards what we’re going to need to do.”
The Gee-Gees led the Lakers after breaking the ice 10 minutes into the first period after defenseman Patrick Burns scored his first of the season. But Nipissing would wipe that lead away halfway through the second period with a goal from forward Grant Toulmin, who fired a quick wrist shot off the cross bar and in.
Toulmin was then assessed a double-minor penalty for high sticking at the beginning of the third period, which the Gee-Gees would use to score two power play goals less than two minutes apart.
“The third period was one of our grittiest of the year,” said Paiement. “In the first two periods we lost more battles than we won, but in the third we got physical and got in first on the puck.”
The Lakers would manage to pull the Gee-Gees to within one goal after a weak point shot redirected its way through traffic and into the uOttawa net, but that’s as close as the visiting team would get.
The two teams were evenly matched on Saturday, with Nipissing narrowly edging the Gee-Gees in shots by a 25-24 margin.
Russell Abbott was named the third star of the game and made his return to action for the Gee-Gees, stopping 23 Laker shots in his first start in five games since going down with an injury.
The Gee-Gees finish the regular season in fourth place in the OUA East and are slated to begin the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday against the Toronto Varsity Blues. The uOttawa squad faced off against the Varsity Blues just one game ago, beating them 5-4 in a shootout.
“Toronto is a very explosive offensive team,” said Paiement. “They’re the kind of team that you can’t make too many mental mistakes because they’re going to bury you.”
Gee-Gee goal scorers- Burns 10:22 1st period; Donovan (Tanguay-Theriault, Ouellette) 4:42 3rd period (PP); Blain (Donovan, Blunden) 6:18 3rdperiod (PP);
Laker goal scorers- Toulmin (O’Donnell, Peca) 8:47 2nd period; Peca (Gray) 13:54 3rd period (PP);