TORONTO, ON – When the OUA announced that the 2022 Queen’s Cup Playoffs would feature single-game elimination rounds, many were worried. Might the top teams not make the final? Might it be a farce of a post-season?
After three rounds, two of the top teams are in the 110th Queen’s Cup final, with the UQTR Patriotes topping the McGill Redbirds in the East, and the Brock Badgers eliminating the Ryerson Rams in the West. So while the highest seeds aren’t playing in the championship game, Brock and UQTR are fully deserving of taking their shot at the Queen’s Cup.
Although UQTR is the higher seed, OUA regulations have Brock hosting the Queen’s Cup Final this coming Saturday following their win against Ryerson.
Also on Saturday, the Ryerson will host McGill in a bronze medal game with the winning team booking the last gasp ticket to next week’s U CUP National Championship in Wolfville, NS.
Both puck drops are set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Badgers outwork Rams, will host Queen’s Cup
The Brock Badgers came out forcefully on Wednesday night in Toronto and never looked like they would lose. A surprise right through the playoffs, the Badgers were confident and free throughout the first period. Meanwhile, with 15 graduating players, the Rams looked nervous through the game’s opening minutes.
Brock opened the scoring in the first period on a nifty passing play finished off by captain Jared Marino, while Ryerson cut the lead on a late powerplay through a sailing wrist shot from first-year defenceman Elijah Roberts.
Maintaining momentum, the Badgers added a second goal in the first half of the second period through Jacob Roach before Ryerson’s Dominico Commiso batted a puck out of the air to tie the game. Zach Taylor added a goal on the man advantage for the Badgers, who entered the second intermission up 3-2.
The Rams applied pressure in the third period but could not break down the Badgers’ defensive structure, as the visitors added another and an empty netter to seal the game 5-2 and move to the Queen’s Cup.
Roach, a former OHL Champion, finished the night with two goals and an assist.
Ryerson had not been a team that defended the rush well, and that proved to be the case again against Brock. While the home side did not give up as many two-on-one chances as in Round Two against Waterloo, they surrendered the puck several times, allowing the Badgers to capitalize.
In addition to their difficulties defending the counter-attack, the Rams did not look as though they came to compete in a semi-final game until tempers began to boil over late in the second period.
On the day, the Badgers looked hungrier than the Rams, which ended up paying off on the scoresheet as they worked their way to a 5-2 win, silencing a strong student crowd at the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
The Rams had a late powerplay and looked desperate throughout the two minutes, but the crowd backed them right until the end. At the end of the day, though, the Badgers penalty kill kept their structure, and with the help of goaltender Mario Peccia, punched their ticket to the OUA Final and U CUP for the first time since 2018.
“The guys completely deserved and earned this win and a shot at the Queen’s Cup,” said head coach Kevin Forrest to Brock Athletics. “I was impressed with the will and determination of our players tonight. We blocked a lot of shots against a team that knows how to score, which shows how much we wanted this win for each other.”
Riding a wave of confidence, the Badgers will get another boost in the OUA Final, welcoming Cole Tymkin back to their lineup after he served his two-game suspension for a hit in the first round against Laurier.
The men‘s hockey Badgers are just the latest Brock team to strike a chord of success, joining the school’s women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and women’s hockey in qualifying for U SPORTS national championships.
UQTR back in the dance with stingy defence
The UQTR Patriotes started fast and never looked back. Maxime Chagnon opened the scoring with a quick shot from the slot, beating McGill Emmanuel Vella on the game’s first shot just 24 seconds in. With the 1-0 lead, UQTR defended for the next 59 minutes and saw out the 1-0 victory.
Former Chicago Blackhawks prospect goaltender Alexis Gravel showed brightly for the Pats, thwarting McGill’s breakouts, most notably a few breakaways where he looked calm and confident.
Over 1,500 fans packed into the rink in Trois-Riviers for the Pats’ semifinal matchup with the Quebec rivals, creating an unforgettable atmosphere and pushing the home team to victory.
Top pairing defenceman and the structure set out by UQTR head coach Marc-Ettienne Hubert held the visiting Redbirds to just 16 shots, with Gravel stopping each of them. For the Redbirds, Vella stopped 33 saves after allowing the first shot.
McGill was undisciplined at times, drawn into the emotions of a tight semifinal game, but they kept their penalty kill tight, killing off six of UQTR’s powerplays. With the loss, the Redbirds travel to Toronto on Saturday to take on the Rams in the last gasp chance at qualifying for the U CUP.
With the stingy victory, UQTR books a spot in the Queen’s Cup Final with Brock, returning to the OUA Championship clash for the first time since 2016, when they beat the Western Mustangs in London, Ont.