For the second consecutive season, the Gee-Gees men’s hockey team was neck-and-neck with Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate. Ultimately, Belleville’s two third period goals secured a 3-1 win at Minto Sports Complex on Friday night.
When playing against a professional hockey team, it is less about winning or losing and more about how your team plays. For Gee-Gees head coach Patrick Grandmaître, there were plenty of positives on the ice despite the loss.
“We’re facing pros here and we knew that coming in,” said Grandmaître. “I think our first period was really good, we were right there with them. What tends to happen with higher speed and higher skilled teams, when they keep pushing, you tend to break down over time.”
The lone Gee-Gees goal in the first period was scored by defenceman Medric Mercier, who joined the team just in time for the game. Mercier just finished his career in the Ontario Hockey League after playing with the Oshawa Generals and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Last season, Mercier was the highest scoring defencemen in the league with 22 goals.
Second-year goaltender Anthony Brodeur started between the pipes for the Gee-Gees and was peppered with 34 shots, allowing one goal, before being rotated out early in the second period with fellow second-year Graham Hunt. It was a less successful outing for Hunt, who faced 18 shots, but let in the game’s final two goals.
“For us playing a professional team is something big and we take it really seriously,” said second-year forward Kevin Domingue, who led the team in goals last season.
“We’re more intense, more skilled, and more experienced. In a game like this, whether we lose or win, it’s more about how we react to it. How we react to a pro team tells us how we’ll react during the season to teams like Trois-Rivières or McGill.”
Next weekend, the team will travel south of the border to take on the Robert Morris Colonials in Pittsburgh, PA on Sept. 30, followed by the Penn State Nittany Lions in State College, PA.
By the time the team’s regular season kicks off, they will have played OUA, AHL, and NCAA competition, all are valuable learning experiences for Grandmaître’s team.
“We have a good bunch of guys, we have great depth and the guys are buying in.” said Grandmaître. “For this showing against a pretty stacked team, we were right there with them, so I’m more than happy with our guys.”