Guelph, ON– Six periods of hockey in front of hundreds of fans with a trophy on the line. It was a crazy night at the Gryphons Centre as the Guelph Gryphons took over 100 minutes of hockey to beat the Ottawa Gee-Gees and capture the Queen’s Cup. Everything was a little different in the final, it was on internationally sized ice, there was a rambunctious crowd and every mistake someone made could be costly to their teams championship aspirations.
As the teams got used to the differences of the final, the game began at a slow pace. While Guelph are comfortable on the big ice, it’s not the same case for the Gee-Gees and the crowd was something that may have not experienced since their days of major junior hockey. All of the factors compounded themselves into a measly first period.
Neither side had many opportunities, but the one notable shot of the period came from Guelph forward Ryan Valentini who had space right in front of goal but was outdone by the glove of Ottawa netminder Domenic Graham.
While the first period was for getting settle into the game, the second was for playing study defence. There were very few chances, despite a decent number of power plays. The aforementioned Valentini continued to be a threatening presence, but he never got a clear opportunity. The goaltending duo of Guelph’s Andrew Masters and Ottawa’s former Hlinka Gretzky Cup champion Domenic Graham shined through forty minutes and a puck never got the better of them.
The third was a strange period, to say the least. There was a sense of nervousness in every fan and player in the building. As one looked around the arena, fans were doing some sort of anxious tendency, meanwhile, the players seemed a bit stiff on the ice. It was as though everyone was too scared to lose, a factor which bordered their likelihood to win.
Although that factor presented itself, the goals began to come in the third period which in most cases would have been the final frame. The Gryphons sent their fans into a frizzy when Marc Stevens scored on the powerplay less than two minutes into the period.
Their joy did not last long as before the announcer could announce the Gryphons tally, the Ottawa Gee-Gees had already tied the game up. Ottawa’s goal, not on the power play, came from Kevin Domingue who has been a pillar player for their team throughout the season.
The end of the period offered another half chance for the Gryphons who caught Gee-Gees netminder Graham way out of position, but they were not able to put in in the net, much to the dismay of their home crowd.
With the goals starting to flow, it was looking like the matchup would end in regulation. Nope, not at all.
The two sides battled continued to battle it out through the final minutes of regulation. The pace of play picked up, the crowd roared, but neither were able to break the deadlock. This game had to go to overtime. Well, this game actually went to three overtimes.
After 42 minutes of astounding skill, speed, goaltending and all-round hockey, Guelph Gryphons forward Ted Nichol pushed the puck into Ottawa’s net and set off an explosion of cheering from fans and players alike as that goal won the 2020 Queen’s Cup.
“I was sorta frozen, I’ve never won a big championship so I didn’t know what to do,” said Nichol after scoring the goal. “I just saw the crowd and my teammates jump up and I started celebrating with them”
While scoring the golden goal like this is a dream for many children, for Guelph native Giordano Finoro, it meant just a little bit more. “All my family was here. I played in this centre as a kid, this is really cool,” said the freshman.
Regardless of who won, both of these teams are headed to Halifax next week to take on teams from across Canada who are all in search of the David Johnston Memorial trophy and U Sports banner.
The schedule for the tournament will be released in the coming days and all the games will be available for streaming on CBC Sports.