Toronto,ON- Day two of the OUA playoffs saw some of the most exciting hockey that the season has offered up to this point. We were presented with two Game 1s, as well as our first elimination game between the ever fiesty RMC Paladin and the high-flying Carleton Ravens. With day 2 in the books, let’s look back on the night that was.
RMC Paladin vs Carleton Ravens
We start in the eastern division, where the first elimination took place. After giving up a lead and failing to crawl back in game one, the RMC Paladins were on the verge of elimination. In their home arena, the game could not have started any better, as by the end of the first half of the game they found themselves up by three.
It was all looking bright for the Paladin, that is until the Raven swooped down and got his worm, which in this case was four quick goals to flip the script by the end of the second period.
At 4-4, the beginning of the third period presented hope for either side, however, neither team came out with ferocity in the final frame. That is until the Ravens turned away the possibility of overtime, with Cody Caron scoring the series winner with 22 seconds left in regulation.
The Paladins relied on their goal-scoring throughout the two games, as their defence let over 30 shots on the net each time out. In game two, where they fell 5-4, goaltender Joey May still made 34 saves, in what was an exceptional playoff performance for the Calgarian.
It may not have been the result that the Paladins would have hoped for, but the challenge which they provided to the Carleton Ravens was one of the finest the program has ever had. Being paired with the top team is always a challenge, and with this experience, I would not be surprised to see RMC a little higher in the standings next season.
Laurier Golden Hawks vs Guelph Gryphons
Although the Paladin were unable to complete the upset over Carleton, Laurier’s Golden Hawks have begun to against Guelph. The Gryphons, who were ranked third and the favourites in the draw fell 3-1 on their home ice, presenting Laurier with a golden (hawk) chance to finish the series on home ice.
The two teams are separated by 3 spots in the standings, however, the more reliable and “form-wary” power rankings put them both in the top 10. Although Guelph were the technical favourites, the matchup is much closer than the standings suggest.
It did not take long for both teams to realize they were in playoff hockey. The game was faster, the hits were harder, and the saves were bigger. Every part of it was elevated from the regular season games that these teams have trudged through.
While the first period was a stingy affair, the Gryphons broke the deadlock midway through the second frame. The opening goal came from Gio Fonoro, but the lead would not last long for the home team. Laurier picked up their first of the night less than five minutes later and continued to pile on the pressure through the rest of the period. By the time the buzzer rang to end the second, the Golden Hawks had already found their winning goal.
Ethan Wiseman scored the third and final goal for the Golden Hawks, as he gave them some much-needed cushion in the final parts of the game.
While the win is an achievement, the meaning of it is not lost on Laurier head coach Greg Puhalski who said “We haven’t won anything other than one game and it definitely takes two to win a series,” while speaking to OUA.Com, before continuing onto say “After a win like we had tonight, I think just enjoy it for the evening and then get some rest tomorrow, reassess and then get ready for Saturday.”
As he suggested, the second and possibly decisive game of the series goes Saturday night at the home of the Golden Hawks.
McGill Men’s Hockey vs Concordia Stingers
The Montreal rivals hit the. ice at McGill’s McConnel Arena Thursday evening and presented fans with one of the plainest scorelines hockey has to offer: 2-1. However, despite the plainness, McGill don; ’t find it plain at all, as they have moved closer to the second round of the OUA playoffs
Both teams were near equal when at even strength, a big reason as to why the special teams are and will continue to be so important in this series. All of the goals scored in game one came on the man advantage, with a Nathanael Halbert getting two assists, as he appeared on the power play unit throughout the night.
Both team’s offence only came alive when they were on the man advantage, however, each of them peppered the other goalie with shots. McGill’s Louis-Philip Guindon made 33 saves on 34 shots and was a very big reason why they came out with the win.
Liam Heelis, who was the head coach of his first playoff game described what it means to be playing such a big rival in the playoffs: “There’s a big rivalry there and a lot on the line, so the games are usually very tight and it generally comes down to the team that puts forth that little extra effort and I think we did that tonight. He also highlighted the play of his defensman, who despite giving up over 30 shots, caused most of them to be taken from less threatening positions.
All of these series, other than Carleton who moves onto round to are set to play their second games of the first round on Saturday, with game threes on Sunday if required.