MONTREAL — It wasn’t quite the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona but it came pretty darn close at McConnell Arena, Wednesday. In a wild playoff game with an unexpected result, Concordia’s Olivier Hinse tallied twice and added a helper as his No.8-seeded Stingers surprised top-seeded McGill 6-4 to open the OUA East best-of-three men’s hockey quarter-final series.
The 200th lifetime meeting between McGill and Concordia — the Stingers have a record of 95-91-14 against the Redmen — was a playoff contest disguised as a three-ring circus. It featured 82 shots on goal, five power-play markers, two-empty netters — including the game-winner — five goals in the last two minutes of play, and a costly game misconduct penalty.
McGill, which led the nation with the fewest goals against, conceded a season-high half-dozen goals — the most allowed by the Redmen in 30 post-season games, dating back to a 6-1 loss to UQTR on March 4, 2011.
It only took Hinse 16 seconds to find the back of the net after McGill’s Patrick Delisle-Houde was ejected at 11:26 in the first period for a checking-to-the-head major, which is accompanied with an automatic game misconduct and one-game suspension. With Delisle-Houde out of the picture, McGill is now missing their top two forwards on the penalty-killing unit, which was also without centre Marc-Olivier Vachon, injured in the final game of the regular season.
The rest was downhill from there as the Stingers went 3-for-4 on the power-play against McGill, which had the league’s third-best PK unit during the regular season.
“I thought we had a good start, were playing the right way and then we got an unfortunate five-minute major,” said McGill head coach Kelly Nobes. “We lost (another key player) which put us out of sync with our line matchups and we didn’t respond well to the adversity of having guys playing in different positions… Concordia’s power-play was very good and our PK wasn’t good enough. Give credit to Concordia, they played a good game and were opportunistic on their chances… It’s good adversity for our group. You don’t win in the playoffs without facing some adversity.”
McGill defenceman Samuel Labrecque tied it up on a power-play late in the opening period with his first of two. But the Stingers added two more in the middle stanza, on goals by Jessyko Bernard and Dany Potvin (PP) to take a 3-1 lead into the final stanza. Hinse appeared to put the game out of reach with another man-advantage marker at 8:46 to make it 4-1. But that ignited a fiery six-goal flurry down the home stetch. Rookie Simon Tardif-Richard gave McGill some hope with a PP goal at 12:54 to make it 4-2 and with the Redmen goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Labrecque narrowed the gap to 4-3 — the ninth goal in the past six games for the 5-foot-8 rearguard — at 18:02 after Cedric McNicoll won a key faceoff back to the point. Labrecque has tallied four goals in his three league and playoff games against the Stingers.
Philippe Hudon and Domenic Beauchemin both added unassisted empty-net goals for Concordia, each attempting a risky manoeuvre by shooting the puck all the way down the ice from inside their own zone. Thirteen seconds later, with the McGill goalie pulled for the fourth time, the Redmen replied again when Guillaume Langelier-Parent found the net at 19:46 to cap a zany finish.
McGill went 2-for-3 on the power-play and had a 44-38 edge in shots, including a 22-10 margin in the final period.
Concordia netminder Robin Billingham made 40 saves for the victory, while McGill’s Jacob Gervais-Chouinard was beaten a season-high four times on 36 shots and took the loss.
McGill, which posted a division-leading 21-5 record during the regular-season, now faces a must-win game against the Stingers, who had an 8-17-1 record. Game 2 of the series is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Ed Meagher Arena. Tickets at Concordia are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Children six and under get in free.
Should the Redmen force a rubber match, it will be at McConnell Arena on Sunday at 7 p.m.
REDMEN RAP: McGill is now 80-79 lifetime in post-season play dating back to their first playoff game way back in 1910, including a 75-52 record since joining the OUA in 1987 and a 13-11 mark against Concordia… Among McGill’s pre-game lineup scratches were four injured players, including F David Rose (out for the 6th straight game), F Marc-Olivier Vachon, D Dominic Poulin and D Jean-Philippe Mathieu… Among the former Redmen to send best wishes to the team for the playoffs were two All-Canadians Marc-Andre Dorion (2008-12) and George Burnett (1982-85)… Dorion is currently in his second season of playing pro hockey in Linz, Austria… Burnett, who coached in the NHL with Edmonton and Anaheim, in his 11th season as coach and general manager with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls… Sad to report that former McGill defenceman Doug Crossley (1968-71) passed away on Feb. 7 in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, after suffering a heart-attack.
Concordia 6 at McGill 4 (2 ENG)
(Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – McConnell Arena)
GOALS BY PERIOD:
Concordia 1-2-3 — 6
McGill 1-0-3 — 4
1, Concordia, Olivier Hinse 1 (Bernard, Kabbaj), 11:42 (PP).
2, McGill, Samuel Labrecque 1 (Pompei, Brunelle), 18:40 (PP).
Penalties-Blunden Con (elbowing), 0:47; Delisle-Houde Mcg (major-checking to the head, game misconduct), 11:26; Bernard Con (holding), 18:16.
3, Concordia, Jessyko Bernard 1 (Hinse, Oke), 0:37.
4, Concordia, Dany Potvin 1 (Blunden, Beauchemin), 15:15 (PP).
Penalties-Lemieux Mcg (interference), 13:27.
5, Concordia, Olivier Hinse 2 (Oke, Bernard), 8:46 (PP).
6, McGill, Simon Tardif-Richard 1 (Bonneau, Boutet), 12:54 (PP).
7, McGill, Samuel Labrecque 2 (Brunelle, McNicoll), 18:02.
8, Concordia, Philippe Hudon 1 (unassisted), 18:54 (ENG).
9, Concordia, Domenic Beauchemin 1 (unassisted), 19:33 (ENG).
10, McGill, Guillaume Langelier-Parent 1 (Antonelli, Lemieux), 19:46.
Penalties-Laporte Mcg (holding), 2:10; Monast Mcg (hooking), 8:08; MacDonald Con (holding), 10:57.
Shots on Goal-
Concordia 13-15-10 — 38.
McGill 10-12-22 — 44.
Power Play Opportunities-
Concordia 3 / 4;
McGill 2 / 3.
Robin Billingham (W, 1-0-0, 44 shots-40 saves; 60:00).
Jacob Gervais-Chouinard (L, 0-1-0, 36 shots-32 saves; 58:39).
Empty-net (2 shots-2 goals, 1:21)
Start: 7:02 PM
End: 9:14 PM
Referees-Alexandre Garon, Pascal St-Jacques.
Linesmen-Jean-Francois Losier, Benoit Martineau.
MOLSON CUP THREE STARS:
1. CON – 11 Olivier Hinse
2. MCG – 6 Samuel Labrecque
3. CON – 28 Jessyko Bernard