MONTREAL — Max Le Sieur scored twice and added an assist as sixth-ranked McGill doubled Concordia 6-3 at McConnell Arena, Sunday, to give the Redmen a 2-1 series victory in their OUA East quarter-final. McGill, the top seed in the division, advances to the semifinals, where they will play Queen’s in another best-of-three affair beginning Wednesday night in Montreal.
The game started 11 minutes late due to transportation problems for Concordia, who ended up borrowing the bus used by the Montreal Carabins, while they were in the process of losing 6-3 to the Martlets in a matinee matchup between the top two ranked women’s hockey teams in the nation.
The rushed start did not appear to affect the Stingers who opened the scoring when Ben Dubois struck only 99 seconds after puck drop.
But like we’ve seen countless times, this McGill squad roared back with four consecutive goals — by Cedric McNicoll, Mathieu Pompei, David Rose and Pietro Antonelli — the third one chasing Concordia starter Robin Billingham at the 4:31 mark of the second period.
It was the first career playoff tally for Antonelli, a sophomore from Blainville, Que., who raced out of the penalty box for his milestone marker and also had an assist. The stocky 5-foot-11, 213-pound left-winger saw liitle ice time until late in the season. But since suiting up in a key win at UQTR on Jan. 28, Antonelli has racked up points in five of seven games, scoring three goals and collecting five assists.
Philippe Hudon gave the Stingers a bit of hope at 19:28 of the middle stanza, narrowing the gap to 4-2, but Le Sieur restored the three-goal advantage at 9:06 and added an empty-netter after Dany Potvin‘s goal had given Concordia a feeble heartbeat at 14:52 of the third. Le Sieur, an economics junior from Montreal, has 10 career playoff points, five of them goals, in 16 post-season games with the Redmen.
Jacob Gervais-Chouinard of Sherbrooke, Que., made 29 saves in the McGill net for the win, improving his career post-season record to 9-4. Concordia back-up Alexandre St-Arnaud took the loss in relief of Billingham (3 goals on 19 shots) after conceding two goals on 15 shots in 34:49.
“Chouinard was real good (in the Game 2 shutout) and he was solid again tonight,” said Redmen head coach Kelly Nobes. “He’s in good rhythym, is making the big saves at the right time, playing the puck well and seeing the puck well. He’s real focussed.”
“We weren’t happy with Game 1 (a 6-4 loss) and we didn’t play the way we need to play to be successful,” added Nobes. “We made some adjustments, brought a sense of urgency, physicality and the right mentality for the playoffs. You have to elevate your game, whether it is the first round or at the national championship. In Games 2 and 3, we brought that mode that is needed in playoff hockey.”
McGill was 0-for-2 on the power-play while Concordia was 0-for-1 in a game that featured only three minor penalties for a total of six minutes — all in the second period — four of them by the Stingers. It surpassed the the lowest combined total ever between these bitter rivals, when 12 minutes were assessed (all to Concordia) in a 4-1 Corey Cup triumph for McGill, Feb. 13, 2011.
McGill (21-5-0) now shifts their focus on fifth-seeded Queen’s (13-12-1), a long-time rival and next round opponent, who also won their quarter-final series the hard way. After losing 2-1 at home to Laurentian, the Gaels made the lengthy trek to Sudbury, where they prevailed 3-1 and 2-1 in overtime.
The McGill-Queen’s series is the third oldest hockey rivalry in North America since the two archrivals first hooked up back in 1895. The only older rivalries on record are Queen’s-RMC (1886) and McGill-RMC (1892).
McGill has won 27 consecutive victories over the Gaels since their last loss 11 years ago, in a 5-2 setback on home ice, Feb. 6, 2004. The Redmen are 121-50-2 in 173 lifetime meetings.
This season, McGill swept both meetings against the Gaels, winning 4-3 in Kingston in the OUA opener (Oct. 10) and 4-1 at McConnell Arena (Jan. 23). In the opener, defenceman Samuel Labrecque tallied the game-winner with only 14 seconds left in the third period. In the last meeting, Labrecque struck for a natural hat-trick in a six-minute span during the second period, including the game-winner. Max Le Sieur also scored in both games.
This will be only the fourth playoff series ever between these historic clubs, with McGill sweeping the series in both 2012 and 2008. McGill is 4-1 lifetime in post-season play against the Gaels and haven’t lost a playoff encounter to them in over a century, dating back to an 8-2 sudden-death final, played in Ottawa on March 7, 1910.
In the last playoff rendez-vous with the Gaels, held in 2012, the Redmen swept a quarter-final series 3-2 and 5-1 and went on to register a 9-1 record in post-season play, en route to winning their first-ever CIS national championship.
After Game 1 on Wednesday, McGill will make the trek to Kingston for Game 2 on Friday night. If a rubber match is needed, it is slated for 7 p.m. on Sunday night back at McConnell Arena.
McGill Sports Info Office
Concordia 3 at McGill 6
(Sunday, February 15, 2015 – McConnell Arena)
GOALS BY PERIOD:
Concordia 1-1-1 — 3
McGill 2-2-2 — 6
Penalties-Hudon Con (roughing), 4:57; Armstrong Con (elbowing), 9:11; Antonelli Mcg (hooking), 11:55.
Shots on Goal-
Concordia 14-10-8 — 32.
McGill 17-8-10 — 35.
Power Play Opportunities-
Concordia 0 / 1;
McGill 0 / 2.
Robin Billingham (Start, ND, 19 shots-16 saves; 24:31);
Alexandre St-Arnaud (L, 0-1-0, 15 shots-13 saves; 34:49).
Empty-net: (1 shot, 1 goal, 0:40)
Jacob Gervais-Chouinard (W, 2-1-0, 32 shots-29 saves; 60:00).
Start: 7:11 PM
End: 9:15 PM
Referees-Jonathan Trudel, Benoit Lessard.
Linesmen-Benoit Martineau, Maxime Chaput.