Ottawa Gee-Gees lose big in home opener vs Ontario Tech

Ottawa, ON – That definitely did not go as planned.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees had be frustrated heading into 2022-2023. After a surprise run to the 2020 Queen’s Cup, they lost out on the U SPORTS National Championship thanks to the early days of COVID, then lost the next season to cancellation before coming back in 2021-2022 only to fall in the Queen’s Cup first round to the Nipissing Lakers.

With all eyes on them as the OUA season got underway, an opening night matchup against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks could have been the perfect chance to send an early message that the Gee-Gees were gunning for a title once again.

However, with a 5-1 loss, the only real message that Ottawa sent the OUA on Thursday was that they needed to go back to the drawing board.

Richard Coffey/49 Sports

The Ridgebacks came into Minto Sports Complex on the first half of a back-to-back (they take on the Carleton Ravens in their home opener on Friday, Oct. 14). For an Ontario Tech team that notably lost primary offensive weapons in Matthew Barron, Jack Patterson and Austin Eastman the Ridgebacks came out flying to start the game.

They were rewarded halfway through the period as Baxter Anderson found Nicolas Tardif at the top of the left circle, and he wired it past Anand Oberoi to give the Ridgebacks the 1-0. Just 24 seconds later, on a Ridgebacks 2-on-1, Cullen McLean found Andrew Suriyuth to make it 2-0 before the clock had reached 10 minutes.

“Give Ontario Tech credit; they played a very simple and efficient game, they stuck to their structure, and they capitalized on every opportunity we gave them today.” Gee-Gees assistant coach Paul Stoykewych said.

Stoykewych stepped in as head coach for the night in place of Patrick Grandmaitre and was left frustrated by his team’s evident lack of cohesion on the night.

“We made a lot of mistakes, we’ve gotta go back to the drawing board, we gotta stick with what we are good at, and we gotta flip the page,” Stoykewych said.

The Gee-Gees got one back in the middle of the second period as sophomore Mathieu Desgagnés managed to get a shot past Ridgebacks goalie Leif Hertz finally. A late goal from Nolan Ford put the Gee-Gees back up by two though heading into the third. “I think we had a decent start. I think we were working hard, and then after that, it was just our work ethic we got outworked a little bit,” Desgagnés said.

Desgagnés’ goal came on the man advantage, but the Gee-Gees found themselves 1/6 at five on four, leaving coach Stoykewych frustrated with the power play.

It looks a little bit stale in the sense we’re over handling pucks, we’re not shooting when we should be, we’re shooting when we shouldn’t be, and it looks a little tense,” Stoykewych said.

Cullen McLean added a goal early in the third to make it 4-1 before James White dropped the fifth goal in a couple of minutes later to end it. While the Ridgebacks move on to the Ice House to take on the Carleton Ravens in their home opener, the Gee-Gees turn around and play the same Nipissing Lakers that ousted them from the 2022 playoffs on Friday night. The Gee-Gees have to hope that the sting of last year will carry over into better performances on the ice.

“It’s just work ethic, we need to outwork the other team, and Nipissing, that’s the team that beat us in the playoffs last year so extra motivation there,” Desgagnés’ said.

Ultimately the 2022-2023 season is not over after a poor first showing, but the question now is, what Ottawa Gee-Gees team shows up against the Lakers? A second straight poor showing to begin the year will raise more questions.

“Thankfully, we’re not a football team; we get to play tomorrow,” Stoykewych said.

“They’re walking out of the arena today with their tail tucked behind their legs, and they should, but they gotta walk out also with their chin high because they’re student-athletes; they’re old enough to understand that when you don’t have a good day you gotta show up tomorrow, put in the work, make the adjustments and move on.”

Leave a Reply