Ravens earn playoff home ice with win over Nipissing

Ottawa, ON – With their spot in the 2023 Queen’s Cup playoffs already confirmed and their actual seeding for the most part out of their direct control, when the Carleton Ravens took the ice on Saturday for their Senior Night matchup against the Nipissing Lakers, there wasn’t much externally they could change in their situation no matter what happened across the sixty minutes. 

At the end of it, though, Carleton still walked away with a 4-0 win, gave a senior another night to remember, and crucially saw the awakening of crucial secondary scoring in advance of the 2023 Queen’s Cup playoffs.

There was little the Ravens could change about their situation heading into Saturday. A spot was already booked in the playoffs, but if the McGill Redbirds defeated the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks on Saturday afternoon (which they did 4-3), that meant the Ravens automatically had a matchup against the Ontario Tech in the first round of the Queen’s Cup playoffs as the 4 & 5 seeds. The one thing Carleton could control would be seeding as a point would push them to fourth. 

For the Lakers, the meeting with Carleton ended a disastrous 2022-2023 season that saw them finish last in the OUA East at 4-17-5 and finish 19th out of 19 with 51 goals for and 18th out of 19 with 110 goals allowed. 

To their credit, when things kicked off, the Lakers held their own through 20 minutes, keeping the game tied 0-0 after 20 minutes and forcing some quality saves out of Carleton goalie Mark Grametbauer. 

“I think we had a slow start to our game, but I think we picked up our details as the game went on and tried to make it more of a playoff mentality type of game going into the playoffs on Wednesday.” Aaron Boyd said.

In the second, it was Boyd himself stepping up for the Ravens. The veteran, who has been with the Carleton program since 2018, picked his first of the night halfway through the frame when he finished off a two-on-one and wired a shot past Nipissing’s Zach Roy to make it 1-0 for the Ravens.

“It’s nice for him [Boyd] to get that going right before the playoffs, hopefully, that jumpstarts him, and he has a big playoff for us.” Ravens coach Shaun Van Allen said.

Late in the second, it was Boyd again, finishing off another two-on-one by pounding a one-timer through Roy to give the Ravens a 2-0 lead they held through two periods. 

Into the third period, the Ravens continued to push as Oliver Castleman added his fifth of the season before Madoka Suzuki dropped in his fourth a few minutes later to make it 4-0. 

He picked up an assist on Castleman’s goal, but Saturday marked the end of a six-game goal streak for Parker AuCoin as the Ravens’ sniper finished the 2022-2023 season with 24 goals. 

Still, the showcase of secondary scoring on the Ravens was a hopeful sign of things to come in the playoffs.

“In the playoffs, it’s [secondary scoring] huge,” Van Allen said. “Usually, the big guys kind of neutralize themselves, or they cancel out, but you know we can’t rely on one line to score in the playoffs, or we’re not going to be very effective.”

With the McGill Redbirds beating Ontario Tech, the messy middle of the OUA East is finalized as McGill earns the number three seed and takes on the Ottawa Gee-Gees. At the same time, the Ravens book themselves a battle with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks as the number four and five seeds, respectively. 

They began the year with a 6-1 blowout win over Ontario Tech on opening night but followed it up with a 3-2 overtime loss on Nov 11 and a 2-1 loss on Jan 7. 

Still, for a veteran in Boyd, who has seen the Carleton Ravens reach their last peak of the 2019 U SPORTS National Championship, the win tonight means more than it might look on the outside.

“Ending the season off with a win gives us a lot of confidence especially knowing we earned that home-ice advantage in the first round.”

Cover Photo: (Marc LaFleur/Carleton Athletics)

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