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McGill captures Queen's Cup

History didn’t repeat itself on Saturday night.
McGill forward Evan Vossen hoists the Queen's Cup following the Redmen's 3-1 win over Lakehead at Fort William Gardens on Saturday night. (Leith Dunick)
History didn’t repeat itself on Saturday night.

The McGill Redmen, who four years ago lost the Queen’s Cup final at Fort William Gardens, far from their Montreal home, made the most of their long-awaited OUA title game rematch with the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

Andrew Wright scored a pair of first period goals and the Cavendish Cup-bound Redmen captured their second OUA men’s hockey championship in three years, downing the Wolves 3-1 in front of a sell-out crowd of 3,735, and snapped LU’s six-game postseason win streak in the process.

For game MVP Wright, a Toronto native in his second year with McGill, it was a touch of redemption for a team that’s been in four of the past five OUA finals.

“Last year we went down to Western and came up a little bit short. But today we just battled through. We came out early and took the crowd out of it. It was a helluva job. All four lines just worked hard and we ended up on top,” Wright said, following a 20-minute on-ice celebration that saw them hoist the Queen’s Cup, the first of two trophies they hope to capture at the Gardens this season.

In a two-goal contest, the clock couldn’t tick away quickly enough for Wright, as the third period began to wind down.

“Every shift you came off you were looking up and it was like one more minute less to go. Once you finally get that buzzer, it’s a great feeling, the whole team together. They just jumped on the ice. It was  a team win. It was great,” said Wright, who scored four goals in eight postseason appearances.

Kris Hogg scored the lone goal for the Thunderwolves, who will likely earn the fourth or fifth seed at nationals, slated to begin March 25 at the Gardens.

McGill coach Jim Webster, who took over for program architect Martin Raymond after the 14-year veteran took a job with Hamilton of the American Hockey League, gave Raymond full credit for the win.

“He certainly left me with a great team. So I appreciate that for sure. It was, from the first day I took charge, they were just full speed, working hard every day, a pleasure to coach,” Webster said.

Their job isn’t over yet, he added. Not by a long shot.

“It’s the first step. It’s funny, I’ve been talking about nationals since the beginning of the year because I saw tremendous speed and potential throughout the lineup. Here it is now, we’re on the verge, we’ve won this, but there’s a couple more to go,” he said.

It was a game of missed opportunities for Lakehead, who kept plenty of pressure on McGill goalie Hubert Morin, but just couldn’t finish when it counted.

“It definitely not the outcome we had hoped or planned for. But we got taught a pretty good lesson tonight,” said Lakehead captain Jordan Smith. “You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. I think we went a little bit cold there, but ... still it wasn’t good enough on our part, and full credit to them. They played a helluva hockey game. We get a second chance two weeks from now.”

Lakehead coach Joel Scherban, who played in the McGill-Lakehead Queen’s Cup final four years ago, said they wanted to win an OUA championship and go into nationals as one of the top three seeds. That’s not going to happen now, so it’s time to refocus and take a different approach, he said.

“It’s disappointing, but we get to move on and we have a bigger and better tournament coming up that we have to prepare for.”

Scherban said the task ahead of them isn’t an impossible one, and they have first-hand proof of that.

“Just look at New Brunswick last year. They lost their conference and they got a mulligan and went in and won it. Now that’s our focus is going to be,” Scherban said.

Wright’s first goal came on an odd-man rush on the power play. Instead of playing the body, the Wolves went puck hunting, freeing Wright, who took a pass from OUA playoff scoring champion Francis Verreault-Paul and crushed it past Alex Dupuis at 7:10 of the opening period. Hogg tied the score less than three minutes later, crashing Hubert Morin’s crease, reigniting the crowd.

But the Redmen kept up their attack and with less than two minutes to go in the first, Wright struck again at 18:21, with what proved to be the eventual game winner.

Matt Dias had several chances to knot the game in the second, but a McGill player always managed to sweep the puck aside at the last second, or Morin was in place to make the stop.

Shandor Alphonso had a glorious opportunity late in the second, but couldn’t get his stick on a pass in front with Morin out of position for one of the few times on the night.

Despite the pressure exerted by LU in second half of the contest, it was McGill’s Evan Vossen who scored next, going high on Dupuis for his fifth of the playoffs, the goal coming at 17:58 of the second.

The Wolves pulled Dupuis with 90 seconds to go in the third, but couldn’t get the puck past Morin.

The Cavendish Cup begins on March 25.

Claw marks: The University of Quebec at Trois Rivieres grabbed the fifth of six spots for the Cavendish Cup, knocking off Western 5-4 in what can only be described as a wild finish. The Patriotes scored three goals in 31 seconds in the final two minutes to overcome a 4-2 deficit in the OUA’s bronze-medal game on Saturday night. Saint Mary’s is a win away from clinching the Atlantic berth, holding a 2-0 series lead on St. Francis Xavier ... In Canada West playoff action, Alberta edged Manitoba 2-1 on Saturday night to even their best-of-three final at a game apiece. 

Scoring: 1. McGill, Wright 3 (Verreault-Paul, Picard-Hooper) 7:10 pp. 2. Lakehead, Hogg 4 (Dobben, McPherson) 9:57 pp. 3. McGill, Wright 4 (Verreault-Paul, Picard-Hooper) 18:21. Penalties: Smith LAK (hooking) 6:12, Daneau MCG (tripping) 9:14, Rioux MCG (unsportsmanlike conduct), Longre-Poirier MCG (slashing), A. Alphonso LAK (unsportsmanlike conduct), Hogg LAK (high sticking) 13:47.

Scoring: 4. McGill, Vossen 5 (Doucet, Marcott-Legare) 17:58. Penalties: Picard-Hooper MCG (slashing) 0:24, Rioux MCG (interference) 6:54, Soares LAK (interference) 15:07.


Scoring: None. Penalties: Dias LAK (cross checking) 6:58, Dorin MCG (unsportsmanlike conduct), Maunu LAK (elbowing) 19:47. Gazdic MCG, Smith LAK (cross checking), Speer LAK (slashing) 19:58.

GAME DATASOG – McGill 11-10-5-26, Lakehead 8-7-12-27; Power plays (goals-chances) – McGill (1-4), Lakehead (1-3); Goaltenders – McGill: Hubert Morin, Lakehead: Alex Dupuis; A: 3,735 (sell out).

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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