Posted: Mar 07, 2009
McGill swept the OUA East Conference best-of-three final series and have qualified for the CIS national championship tourney for the third time in four years. Each time, the Redmen defeated UQTR to win the conference title. McGill, which has now won four straight games from their bitter provincial rivals, has only captured three of 14 lifetime playoff series against the perennial division champions.
After a scoreless first period, Francis Charland broke the ice with a power play at 12:43 of the middle stanza to give UQTR a 1-0 lead. Rookie Marc-Andre Daneau, a rearguard from St. Hubert, Que., evened the score on a power play at 3:24 of the final period.
"This group is a special one," said McGill co-captain Ken Morin, a senior from St. Prosper, Que. "It was a learning process for us this year. We lost nine veterans to graduation last year and had a lot of new faces, so we struggled at the start of the year and lost our first five games.
"But that fifth loss, in overtime at UQTR, was a turning point. We outworked them and outplayed them and it was a morale victory. After that we just kept working hard every game and never gave up. The young guys came in and stepped up big time. The second and third-year guys took a leadership role, which made things easier for the seniors and the coaching staff has worked wonders. We're having fun and when you do that, you play well and good things happen."
The Redmen penalty-killing unit, which struggled through most of the first semester, held the vaunted Pats league-leading power play to just one goal in 10 chances during the two-game series.
UQTR outshot McGill 30-27 but were held at bay by Redmen netminder Kevin Desfossés, a freshman from Beauport, Que., who stoned the Pats on a couple of breakaways and made a few acrobatic game-saving saves in the final period. UQTR's back-up netminder Michael Dupont started for the sixth straight game and took the loss.
"I didn't recognize my team out there for the first two periods," said long-time McGill head coach Martin Raymond, who had a number of stern discussions with the referee. "I told them in the second intermission that we we're only down one goal and if we lost, we still had another game to go in the series – so let's show up in the final period and we did just that. Desfossés came up with another strong effort in net, Doucet did a great job filling in for Bloom and scored yet another key goal. Also, I can't speak enough about Ken Morin and Eric L'Italien, our co-captains who provided some great leadership tonight."
It was university hockey at its finest that had the crowd on the seat of their pants until the dying seconds.
"I would love to have the chance to have 28 games like this one during the regular season," said a disappointed Jacques Laporte, in his 10th season as bench boss of the Patriotes. "None of our players should leave here with their head down. The Redmen are a very god hockey team. I'm convinced that our league will be very well represented at the Canadian championships."
McGill improved to 26-13-2 overall record, including a 6-1 mark in post-season play. Before heading to the Nationals in Thunder Bay, Ont., McGill will attempt to capture their second successive Queen's Cup league championship, a one-game, sudden-death affair on March 14 against the winner OUA Western Conference final between Western and Laurier. Western leads that series 1-0 and Game 2 is set for Saturday. Both OUA finalists will advance to the dance.
Source: McGill Redmen Athletics