OTTAWA, ON – Going down to the wire in a do-or-die game three, the Ravens men's hockey team saw their season abruptly end as they fell in a 3-2 final to the UQTR Patriotes Sunday night at the Ice House.
The heartbreaking loss comes after the Ravens' claimed the opening lead with a dominant start and threw everything they had at the Patriotes' net in a relentless finishing effort.
"We had a really good first period, something we didn't have in the first two games," explains Ravens head coach Marty Johnston. "They stymied our power play, caught us with an unlucky first goal, and it changed the momentum. I'm not going to fault the effort of our guys, but give UQTR credit."
Picking up from Saturday's dominant third-period play, the Ravens immediately brought the play to the attacking zone where they would outshoot their opponents 13-10. Through nearly all their on-net targets, the Ravens sent the defending Patriotes into repeat mad scrambles, many of which resulted in crucial desperation saves from netminder Sebastian Auger.
Midway through the period, however, the Ravens' efforts would break through as a tic-tac-toe passing play saw the puck moved by Michael McNamee (Perth, ON) and Alexandre Boivin (Ottawa, ON) before finding a net-front Josh Burnside (Brampton, ON) for a left-side chip in over the sprawling right pad of Auger.
With a one-goal cushion and a dialed in Francois Brassard (Gatineau, QC), who ended the night with 23 saves, turning aside everything the Patriotes threw his way, the Ravens closed the opening 20 minutes with all the momentum behind them. But with the start of the second, a different Patriotes' group evidently took the ice.
Repeat rushes saw the Patriotes place as much traffic as they could in front of Brassard, looking for any opportunity they could find to sneak one past the red-hot goaltender. And within a matter of ten minutes, a pair of breaks would push the visitors in front with the lead.
First, a fortunate redirect off the stick of a defender allowed Patriotes' defenceman Jeremy Ouellet-Beaudry to beat a reacting Brassard from the high-right point of the Ravens zone. Then, nearly ten minutes later, another deflection off a defender, this time coming off a net-front skate, bounced directly to Charles-David Beaudoin in the slot. With a quick release, Beaudoin's shot snuck through a pair of sprawling bodies and past the goal line to give his team a 2-1 lead.
With the ice beginning to tilt in the Patriotes' favour, the Ravens quickly looked to bring the game back to a tie. And although Auger's stellar 31-save performance forced shooters to be persistent, a late rush would see the Ravens earn a golden opportunity.
After retrieving the puck behind his own net, Boivin travelled all the way to the Patriotes' blueline before a near hit caused him to dish out the puck to a left-side Brett Welychka (London, ON). Looking cross-ice, Welychka found a streaking McNamee for a low-right shot that would rebound out to himself for another shot. Making no mistake, McNamee snapped the rebound up and over a sprawled-out Auger for his team's second goal of them game with just minutes remaining in the period.
Entering the third with the game tied at two, it was anyone's game for the taking, but stepping up first were the Patriotes. Just two minutes into the frame, a left-side point shot from Mathieu Lemay deflected off the extended stick of Guillaume Asselin directly in front of Brassard. With the puck redirecting off Asselin's stick and into the unsuspecting top-left corner, the Patriotes reclaimed the lead with much of the period left to play.
Throughout the remaining 18 minutes, the Ravens threw everything they could on net, outshooting the visitors 13-4 in a relentless display of offence. Among the 13, a pair of shots by Boivin and Burnside cleanly beat Auger but couldn't beat the iron as both targets rang the crossbar and sent Ravens in a continued search.
A last minute, empty-net onslaught saw the Ravens make one last effort to save their season. But with the Patriotes laying their bodies on the line and Auger continuing to carry his team through unforgiving amounts of pressure, the clock would eventually hit zero, ending game three and ending the Ravens' season.
The heartbreaking loss closes out perhaps the toughest opening-round playoff matchup the OUA had to offer. With the win, the Patriotes move on to face the McGill Redmen in OUA semi-final action. Meanwhile, the concluded Ravens' campaign closes out the university career of seven players, all of whom gave all they had to offer over the course of the 2016-17 season.
"It definitely hurts," admitted Johnston. "Anything can happen when it comes to a winner-take-all game, but I'm not going to fault our guys. They gave it everything they had. It's just a tough pill to swallow."
Source: Carleton Ravens