MONTREAL — Defenceman Samuel Labrecque tied a school record with his sixth game-winning goal as No.6 ranked McGill clinched the OUA East pennant with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Royal Military College Paladins at McConnell Arena, Saturday.
It marked the first regular season divisional title since 2011-12 for the Redmen and their fifth since 2004-05. McGill, which finished atop the nine-team OUA East with a 21-5-0 record, will open a best-of-three quarterfinal series against eighth-place Concordia (8-17-1) on Wednesday at McConnell Arena (7 p.m.).
“There’s a lot of value in finishing first,” said Redmen head coach Kelly Nobes, who improved to 146-59-3 in 208 games overall since taking over the helm five years ago. The guys know that and we worked hard to earn home-ice advantage and we can (celebrate) that for a day but then we have to get focussed on the playoffs because that’s a totally different season and nothing else, other than lessons learned, really matters going forward.”
McGill, which outshot RMC 45-22, found themselves tied 1-1 after the first period but exploded for three in less than four minutes during the middle stanza and added one more in the third.
Labrecque, a 22 year-old native of Granby, Que., who led all CIS blueliners this season with 13 goals in 26 games, tallied his deciding marker on the power-play at 11:28 of the second period. The first-year physical education transfer from Clarkson University equaled a 27-year-old McGill record for game-winners set by centre Tim Iannone, who tallied six in 25 league games during 1987-88. That mark was matched in 2009-10 by Redmen forward Francis Verreault-Paul who accomplished the feat in 27 contests. Labrecque needs three more in the post-season to match the Redmen single-season overall record of nine held by Iannone (38 games, 1987-88).
Cedric McNicoll opened the scoring at 2:43 for McGill with his 11th but RMC’s Deric Boudreau tied it a 1-1 just three minute later with his first career marker.
Pietro Antonelli, a sophomore forward from from Blainville, Que., who tallied his second of the season and also collected an assist on the first goal, put the game out of reach at 5:28 of the final period and was named as the game’s first star. The 5-foot-11, 213-pound product of Stanstead College, only recently received a chance to crack the lineup as the Redmen have had a few players go down with injuries. He finished up strong with all six of his points this season coming over the last four contests.
“Antonelli has played well when he’s gotten a chance,” said Nobes. “He has a big frame and uses it well to protect the puck against the boards and work the corners. He brings physical play, can shoot the puck with some offensive flair and showed that on his goal tonight.”
Redmen goaltender Karel St-Laurent started and turned aside 21 pucks for the win, improving to 8-2-0. He finished third in the nation in save percentage (.932) and ranked fourth in goals-against average (1.91). RMC’s Evan Deviller made 40 saves in a losing cause.
McGill now turns its focus on meeting Concordia in the first-round of the playoffs. During the preseason, Concordia defeated McGill 5-4 in overtime (Sept. 13) but the Redmen swept both regular season meetings, 5-3 in the “Score With School” morning game on Nov. 27 and 4-3 in double overtime last Friday in the annual Corey Cup game.
“Concordia is always a tough battle for us, we always seem to have close games with them,” said McGill team captain Benoit Levesque, who assisted on Prokop’s goal. “They’re a run-and-gun team and they can score off the rush, so we have to be aware of that, respect them, play well defensively and try to shut them down.”
Game 1 of the playoffs will be the 200th lifetime meeting between McGill and Concordia. The Redmen are 91-94-14 against the Stingers in a rivalry that began in 1975. They have crossed paths 11 times in post-season play with McGill winning seven of the series and 13 of 23 playoff encounters. The Redmen have taken the last two playoff meetings, in 2014 and 2007. Concordia hasn’t beaten McGill in the post-season since 2001.
REDMEN RAP: The victory over RMC improved McGill’s record to 60-8-4 lifetime against the Paladins and marked a milestone win against Ontario-based institutions as the Redmen improved to 600-388-58 lifetime in 1,046 games overall versus OUA opponents, a .601 winning percentage.
|OUA EAST STANDINGS||GP||W||L||OTL||Win %||Last 10||Streak||GF||GA||PTS|
RMC 1 at McGill 5
(Saturday, February 7, 2015 – McConnell Arena)
GOALS BY PERIOD:
RMC 1-0-0 — 1
McGill 1-3-1 — 5
1, McGill, Cedric McNicoll 11 (Antonelli, Brunelle), 2:43.
2, RMC, Deric Boudreau 1 (Bullen, Domenico), 5:48.
Penalties-Deviller Rmc (delay of game), 15:18.
Penalties-Chenevert Mcg (interference), 6:34; Thouin Rmc (roughing), 10:41; Pym Rmc (tripping), 10:57.
6, McGill, Pietro Antonelli 2 (Tardif-Richard, Bonneau), 5:28.
Penalties-Quinlin Rmc (elbowing), 6:16; McDonald Rmc (slashing), 10:14; Livingston Rmc (roughing), 16:03.
Shots on Goal-
RMC 5-5-12 — 22.
McGill 13-15-17 — 45.
Power Play Opportunities-
RMC 0 / 1;
McGill 1 / 6.
RMC, Evan Deviller (L, 0-18-0, 45 shots-40 saves; 60:00).
McGill, Karel St-Laurent (W, 8-2-0, 22 shots-21 saves; 60:00).
Start: 7:02 PM
End: 9:08 PM
Referees-Alexandre Garon, Jonathan Alarie.
Linesmen-Pierre-Luc Huot, Maxime Chaput.