Kingston, ON – Few OUA or U SPORTS events are as deeply forged in history as the Carr-Harris Cup.
It was 137 years ago, back on March 10, 1886, that Queen’s defeated RMC 1-0 in the first game between the schools. In 1986, in honour of the 100th anniversary of that first game, a group of Kingston hockey historians worked with the Original Hockey Hall of Fame to create the Carr-Harris Challenge Cup, an annual contest to be played between the Queen’s Gaels and the RMC Paladins.
The Carr-Harris Cup was named to honour the Carr-Harris family, legends in the Kingston area whose descendants went on to win Stanley Cups, play in the Olympics and, in the case of Marguerite Carr-Harris, captain one of the first women’s hockey teams at Queen’s.
Over the last 37 years, 34 editions of the Carr-Harris Cup have come and gone, with the Queen’s Gaels holding the all-time lead at 21-11-2, including a 4-2 victory in the 2020 Carr-Harris Cup. Finally, the historic game returns to Leon’s Centre in Kingston after three long years and presents an opportunity for a Gaels team running out of time to pick up critical points or an RMC side to play spoiler on their most prominent stage of the season.
Queen’s and RMC so far this season
It’s been a tough season for both Queen’s and RMC as they each enter the Carr-Harris Cup outside of the Queen’s Cup playoff picture. The Gaels are much closer, sitting at 10-11-2 and four points back of the Ottawa Gee-Gees for the final playoff spot, while the Paladins at 7-14-1 are out of the picture for 2022-2023. These teams have squared off twice in 2022-2023, with Queen’s taking both matchups. In the first matchup on November 2, Christian Tsukamoto gave the Paladins the early 1-0 lead, but a pair of goals from Josh Curtis, one late in the second that served as the winner, and another late in the third helped the Gaels to a 4-1 victory. A week later, goaltending led the way for Queen’s as Holden Katzalay and Jonathan Yantsis picked up the goals, but Luke Richardson led the way with a 21-save shutout in a 2-0 win for the Gaels.
Can Queen’s score when it matters most?
Oh the difference a year can make. A season after leading the OUA by 26 goals with 87 in 19 games, the Queen’s offence has fallen to 16th out of 20 with 61 goals in 23 games.
There have been some bright spots on the Gaels’ offence, though. Sophomore Nolan Hutcheson passed his rookie total of six and leads the team with nine goals. Meanwhile, despite falling below his output from a year ago, Owen Lalonde still sits in the top 20 among OUA defenders in scoring with a goal and 11 assists. On the other side, though, after leading the OUA with 13 goals and 29 points a season ago, 2022-2023 has not been kind to Holden Katzalay, with just six goals and 15 points.
After a trip to the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, which saw him pick up four goals and seven assists in seven games on the way to Canada winning gold, a lot of Carr-HarrIs Cup eyes will fall on Jonathan Yantsis to see if he can step on the big stage at the Leon’s Centre the same way he did in Lake Placid in January.
Which RMC team will show up to the Carr-Harris Cup?
Trying to predict the Paladins in the Carr-Harris Cup has always been difficult, as it’s been difficult to tell what team will take the ice. The 2020 Paladins fought back from being down 2-0 to tie the game with four minutes left in the third but ultimately fell apart and lost 4-2. The 2019 Paladins rode a four-point night from Liam Stagg to a dominating 5-1 victory, while the 2018 Paladins came back from three separate deficits before losing 6-5 in overtime.
All over the place has essentially been the theme of the Paladins 2022-2023 season. It was a year that started with a wild 7-6 overtime win over McGill in which RMC led 6-3 entering the third period. It is a season that has seen multi-goal comebacks, including RMC erasing 2-0 to beat Carleton 3-2 in the shootout in their first matchup of the fall semester. At the same time, seeing multi-goal blown leads, including blowing a 4-0 lead vs Carleton in December before losing 6-5 in overtime.
At 7-14-1, the Paladins are out of the OUA playoff race for the year, but a .341 winning percentage still makes 2022-2023 one of the most successful years for RMC in the last decade. With the Carr-Harris Cup the last big game remaining for the Paladins, although it may not be the ending they would want for the year, the opportunity to eliminate their cross-town rivals from the Queen’s Cup playoffs would probably be a decent consolation.
The puck drops for the 35th Carr-Harris Cup at 7:30 pm from the Leon’s Centre in Kingston and is available to watch on http://www.oua.tv