By Jim Hynes
The McGill Redmen fell short in their quest to complete a national hockey sweep for McGill at the men’s CIS championships in Thunder Bay, Ont. Like they did last year, and like three other tournament competitors this year, the Redmen posted a 1-1 record in pool play. But once again, thanks to a goal differential of minus-2, it was not enough to keep them alive in the tournament.
The luck of the draw, compounded by the fact McGill entered the tournament as OUA Finalist and not Champion, saw them face No. 2-ranked St. Mary’s in the tournament opener last Thursday. The 4-1 loss the Redmen suffered to the powerful Huskies put them in a hole out of which they could not climb. The Redmen went into their second game against the OUA champion Western Mustangs, the team that beat them 2-1 in the Queen’s Cup final two weeks ago, knowing they needed to win by at least five goals if they wanted to advance.
“We didn’t play our best game against them (Western) in the OUA Final. We wanted to show them but also ourselves that we should have won the Queen’s Cup,” said McGill rookie forward Alexandre Picard-Hooper.
And show them they did. The line of Picard-Hooper, Sam Bloom and Marko Kovacevic combined for eight points as the Redmen avenged their Queen’s Cup loss with a 4-3 victory, not enough of a win to move on, but a satisfying one nonetheless.
The Mustangs, also owners of a 1-1 record, moved on in the tournament on the strength of a plus-four goal differential. They went on to surprise St. Mary’s in the next round before dropping a 4-2 decision to the No.4-ranked University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds in the championship game.
McGill finished their 133rd season with 27-17-0 record overall, including a pair of overtime losses. The Redmen expect to lose seven players to graduation this year: co-captains Eric L’Italien and Ken Morin, plus Kovacevic, Bloom and Vincent Lambert, defenceman Erik Stilling and goaltender Jake Jarvis.
With files from Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics & Recreation