Toronto, ON- The first round of the OUA men’s hockey playoffs is all wrapped up, as four decisive third games took place Sunday afternoon and evening.
We already took a look at the ousting of the top seed University of Toronto Varsity Blues by the Western Mustangs, that story can be read here. However, this is not about the upset, rather the other series which were pushed to the brink on Sunday.
Ottawa Gee-Gees vs Ontario Tech Ridgebacks
The Ottawa Gee-Gees finally showed why they were the higher seed in game three against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. The first two games were tightly contested, with only a maximum of two goals separating the teams at any point through the first pair of games. Despite the proximity of the two teams throughout the series, all that was lost in game five, where the Gee-Gees resampled the Ridgebacks 5-0.
Ottawa’s Kevin Domingue scored two, while Dominic Cormier and Cody Drover both picked up a pair of assists. All-round domination from the Gee-Gees was the story. As is a common theme in do or die games, the two teams took a tentative start to the game, but once the Gee-Gees got on the board 13 minutes in, there was no turning back.
Ridgebacks sophomore goaltender Leif Hertz was pulled midway through the first period after allowing three goals on 17 shots. He was relieved by former Medicine Hat Tiger Michael Bullion, who provided somewhat of a stop-gap with 22 saves.
The Gee-Gees, the third seed will now face the UQTR Patriotes, who knocked out the 2019 Queen’s Cup champions, the Queen’s Gaels in the first round.
Concordia Stingers VS McGill
The Concordia Stingers have made the second round of the playoffs for the second time in the last three years after defeating their cross-town rivals McGill. It was not so long ago that the Stingers were not abler to compete with the then “Redmen,” but recent years have abolished that thought, and the Stingers are on the verge or already have become the top team in Montreal.
2020 gave us an exciting series between the two in the playoff, with the Stingers coming out on top. The final game came down to powerplays for Concordia to find the win, the exact opposite from what we saw between Ottawa and Ontario Tech. They scored a pair of powerplay goals, which gave them the win, however, the 2/7 success rate on the man advantage is not exactly something to be too proud of; but it was enough.
McGill opened the scoring with a goal from Keanu Yamamoto, brother of Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto in the first period, but that was all the offence McGill found, as Jean Phillipe Bealiu and Chase Harland both responded within 10 minutes to give the Stingers the lead.
Once the Stinger led, there was no looking back. Concordia ramped up the physical play and completely shut down the McGill offence for the third period. The win for the Stinger not only sends them to the second round but gives them their 18th win over 46 games against McGill in OUA competition since October 2003.
Concordia now gets set to face the Carleton Ravens, who nearly faltered in the first round against the RMC Paladins.
Guelph Gryphons vs Laurier Golden Hawks
No top scorer, no MVP, but somehow, without Mikkel Aagaard the Guelph Gryphons managed to find a win in Game 3 over the Laurier to send them to the second round of the playoffs. The Gryphons got a tough break with the departure of their top scorer midway through the series, but the team showed that they can keep rolling without him.
Guelph spread their scoring out throughout Sunday night’s game, scoring a goal in each of the periods, meanwhile adding an extra in the third.
The international ice that the Gryphons play on allowed the game to favour skill, rather than the hard-hitting nature found in most decisive games. However, the grit still found its way through as the nervous energy rushed through the veins of every player, coach and fan.
It was fast, training back and forth action in every period. Compare that to Toronto where it was tight-checking until the third, and you see two polar opposites of games. Goals came from a variety of players, as nobody got more than a single point in the six-goal affair.
åΩThe 4-2 pushes the Gryphons onto the next round of the Queen’s Cup playoffs where they will have home advantage against the fourth seed Brock Badgers.