The McGill Redmen know how to win at Fort William Gardens.
The OUA’s reigning Queen’s Cup champions, the Redmen two weeks ago came to Thunder Bay and outmuscled the Lakehead Thunderwolves to capture the title and earn the second seed at this week’s Cavendish University Cup.
Interim coach Jim Webster, who took over last summer when team architect Martin Raymond took an American Hockey League job in Hamilton, said he plans to stick to his game plan at nationals, regardless of what team his Redmen are playing.
"I’m always more worried about our team that the other team. I think we have to keep emphasizing our speed and our puck movement," Webster said. "All our Ds can move the puck tremendously and we pass the puck very well, so we’ve got to play an up-tempo, forecheck in-their-face kind of game."
On paper, the Redmen have everything it takes to win a CIS title, an accolade the team has never claimed.
They’re the top scoring team in Canada, averaging more than 5.5 goals a game, but they’re equally as good in their own end, allowing 2.54 goals a game, a number topped only by the University of New Brunswick and the University of Quebec at Trois Rivieres, the team the Redmen beat out in the OUA East final.
Webster, who played for McGill in the early 1970s and went on to spend time in the New York Islanders organization and then Europe before turning to coaching, said he’s been talking to his players about nationals since he grabbed the reins from Raymond.
"I saw tremendous speed and potential right through the lineup. Here it is now. We’re on the verge. We won (the Queen’s Cup), but there’s a couple more to go," he said on the Fort William Gardens ice after beating the Wolves 3-1 on March 13. "I don’t think we want to rejoice too much."
Toronto native Andrew Wright, who scored twice in that victory said his team has a score to settle in Thunder Bay, where last year they split their two round robin games, beating eventual finalist Western 4-3 after dropping a 4-1 decision to tournament returnee Saint Mary’s in the tournament opener. Got talent
He thinks they have the team to do it.
"This year we’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of guys back from last year, so we’ve got a little bit more chemistry and guys working well together. We haven’t really changed up too much of the system all year, just played our game and hopefully that will be good enough."
That depth includes sophomore sniper Francis Verreault-Paul, who led the nation with 25 goals and captured OUA East MVP honours, and Alexandre Picard-Hooper, a former 50-goal scorer and 2008-09 OUA East rookie of the year.
The blueline is anchored by OUA East top defenceman Marc-Andre Dorion, and in goal is the formidable Hubert Martin, who went 17-3 with a 2.39 goals against average, fifth best in Canada. McGill opens against Manitoba at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
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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