TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. — Mathieu Pompei of Laval, Que., potted a pair of goals and added an assist as No.8-ranked McGill rallied from a two-goal deficit with five consecutive markers to defeat fifth-ranked UQTR 5-2 in a key OUA men’s hockey showdown for top spot in the OUA East at Le Colisée, Wednesday.
It was the fifth straight win for the Redmen and the team’s first conquest over UQTR in three attempts, including a preseason loss. With only three games remaining for both teams before post-season play, the victory moved McGill (18-5-0) into a tie with the Patriotes (17-4-2) for the division lead but the Redmen now sit in the driver’s seat and hold the tie-breaker should the teams finish even in the standings.
“It was a real character-building team win for us tonight,” said Kelly Nobes, who improved to 143-59-3 in 205 games overall as head coach of the Redmen. “We have a lot of leaders on this team and never gave up. We played with good defensive structure, had solid goaltending and got some secondary scoring. I was very pleased with our performance against one of the top-ranked teams in an arena that is a very tough place to play.”
The Patriotes opened the scoring on a disputed buzzer-beater at the end of the first period. With three seconds left on the clock and a faceoff in McGill’s end, UQTR centre Billy Lacasse won the draw back to winger Guillaume Asselin who found defenceman Jeremy Beaudry in the high slot. Somehow his shot eluded both McGill goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard and the green light signalling the end of the period. McGill protested that time had expired but after the officials huddled to discuss the play, they ruled that the goal was good, even though time had expired on the main clock.
Lacasse made it 2-0 with his 13th goal, on the power-play, at 12:12 of the second stanza, setting the stage for McGill’s miracle-like comeback against a formidible team that owns a deadly 92-18-0 record in their last 110 regular season home games, dating back to the 2007-08 season.
Pompei, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound centre, salvaged the second period, tying it up at 2-2 with his fifth and sixth of the season at 15:40 and 18:14, respectively.
Jonathan Brunelle scored the game-winner at 2:39 of the final period with his ninth of the season. Sophomore Pietro Antonelli added an insurance marker with his first career regular season marker at 8:20, assisted by Pompei, which chased UQTR goaltender Guillaume Nadeau, for only the second time this season.
Antonelli, a 5-foot-11, 213-pound native of Blainville, Que., also added helpers on both of Pompei’s goals for a career-best three-point soiree.
Montrealer Max Le Sieur iced the contest with his eighth goal into an empty net.
McGill, which had a 38-34 edge in shots, went 0-for-2 on the power-play and killed off three of four shorthanded situations. The PP goal scored by the Pats ended McGill’s PK streak at 28 consecutive kills since allowing a PPG on an empty-netter in a 3-1 loss against UQTR on Jan. 4.
Gervais-Chouinard made 32 saves in the McGill net and improved to 11-3-0 on the season. The economics sophomore from Sherbrooke continues to lead the nation with a stingy .944 save percentage and is now tied with Calgary’s Kris Lazaruk (8-4-0) atop the CIS leaderboard with a 1.72 goals-against average.
Nadeau took the loss between the pipes for the Pats, conceding four goals on 34 shots, as his record fell to 10-5-0. His understudy, Francis Desrosiers, saved all three shots he faced in the final 10 minutes.
McGill (18-5-0) has three contests left on their schedule, all of them in Montreal. On Saturday, the Redmen will mark the 138th anniversary of their first-ever game — a 2-1 win over the Montreal Victorias on Jan. 31, 1877 — by hosting the UOIT Ridgebacks (9-14-1) in a 7 p.m. faceoff at McConnell Arena. McGill will close out the schedule with the annual Corey Cup game at Concordia (8-16-0) on Feb. 6 and a home matchup with RMC (0-18-3) on Feb. 7.
UQTR (17-4-2) will host Nipissing (12-10-1) before finishing up on the road at Queen’s (10-12-1) and RMC (0-18-3). Third-place Carleton (17-5-0), which sits just two points back of McGill with a game in hand, will host Ryerson (12-10-1) and Toronto (11-11-1) this weekend before closing out their campaign with road games at Nipissing (12-10-1) and Laurentian (12-8-3).
REDMEN RAP: McGill improved to 16-10-0 in their last 26 matchups with the Pats and 76-150-17 in 242 lifetime meetings… Cedric McNicoll collected a pair of assists and is now tied for third in the OUA scoring race with a 10-21-31 record in 22 games, one point behind UQTR’s Marc-Olivier Mimar (13-19-32) and a dozen in arrears of Windsor’s Spencer Pommells… Detroit Red Wings head coach and McGill grad Mike Babcock is now an ambassador for the “Bell Let’s Talk” campaign, which promotes discussion on mental health.
McGill 5 at UQTR 2 (ENG)
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 – Le Colisee
GOALS BY PERIOD:
McGill 0-2-3 — 5
UQTR 1-1-0 — 2
1, UQTR, Jeremy Beaudry 3 (Asselin, Lacasse), 19:59.
Penalties-Asselin Uqtr (slashing), 7:33.
Penalties-Brunelle Mcg (hooking), 5:13; Laporte Mcg (interference), 9:00; Barnard Mcg (high sticking), 10:26; Quevillon Uqtr (holding opp. stick), 13:08; Delisle-Houde Mcg (diving), 20:00; Quevillon Uqtr (tripping), 20:00.
Penalties-McG BENCH served by Pompei (too many men), 16:43.
Shots on Goal-
McGill 12-12-14 — 38.
UQTR 13-6-15 — 34.
Power Play Opportunities-
McGill 0 / 2;
UQTR 1 / 4.
Jacob Gervais-Chouinard (W, 11-3-0; 34 shots-32 saves; 60:00).
Guillaume Nadeau (Start, L, 10-5-0, 34 shots-30 saves; 48:20);
Francis Desrosiers (ND, 3 shots-3 saves; 10:10).
Empty-net:(1 shot, 1 goal, 1:30)
Start: 7:08 PM
End: 9:22 PM
Referees-Jonathan Alarie, Pascal St-Jacques.
Linesmen-Maxime Desjardins, Daniel Bechard.