By Earl Zukerman
Patrick Delisle-Houde of Quebec City scored twice, including the game-winner on the power-play with only 27 seconds remaining as No.5-ranked McGill edged Guelph 3-2 in OUA men’s hockey at McConnell Arena, Friday.
The Redmen, who had a 46-23 edge in shots, appeared to be in cruise control with a 2-0 lead on second period goals by linemates Cedric McNicoll of Longueuil, Que., and Delisle-Houde. But Guelph struck with cobra-like precision midway through the final stanza, when Nicklas Huard of North Bay, Ont., and Teal Burns of Prince Rupert, B.C., tallied 40 seconds apart to knot the score at 2-2.
Delisle-Houde, a sophomore who led the team in scoring as a freshman, played a role on all three McGill goals. On the game-winner, he slammed home a Samuel Carrier rebound from the slot, seconds after the Gryphons had killed off one penalty kill on a 5-on-3 disadvantage. Defenseman Ryan McKiernan also drew an assist on the winning tally to up his points total to 5-5-10 in eight games. He is second on the Redmen in scoring, leads all OUA defensemen in goals and is one point behind Ryerson’s Peter Hermengildo for the points lead among blueliners.
“Pat is a key player for us and was rewarded for his work by doing the things that he does so well,” said Kelly Nobes, who improved to 99-40-4 in his four seasons as head coach at McGill. “He gets the team’s ‘blue hard-hat award’ tonight for being around the blue paint (i.e. the goalie crease),
“The plan was to get pucks in behind their defensemen and we did that well. For me the correlation was to get it in deep, then we can go on offence, get pucks to the net and get going. Obviously our penalty-kill was real strong tonight – we killed off eight penalties – and our power-play was opportunistic. The important thing was how we responded to having a bit of a lapse (two quick goals against). We got the puck in deep, went back to work, drew two penalties and scored on the power-play.”
Freshman goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard registered 21 saves for the victory, improving to 3-1 on the season. The 21-year-old native of Sherbrooke, Que., played for three teams in the QMJHL and had a three-game tryout with the Montreal Canadiens AHL farm team in Hamilton last year. He is among the top two OUA goalies in goals-against average (1.40) and save percentage (.949).
Making his first start of the season, senior Andrew Loverock of Elmvale, Ont., was charged with the loss, despite a 43-save performance.
McGill was 1-for-7 with the man advantage and killed off all eight Guelph power-plays – including a pair of two-man situations – and now leads the OUA in penalty-killing. They have snuffed out 38 of 41 shorthanded situations for a .927 success rate.
This was McGill’s first rendezvous with Guelph since 2009 and Redmen improved to 27-13-5 in 45 lifetime meetings, including a 10-3-1 mark in their last 14 match ups.
The Gryphons, who dropped to 5-4-0, play at Ottawa on Saturday night. The Gee-Gees (4-5-0) surprised No.7-ranked Western 4-2 on Friday and the Mustangs (5-2-0) will take on McGill (6-2-0) on Saturday at 7 p.m. It will mark Western’s first visit to McConnell Arena since a 4-4 draw on Nov. 24, 2006.