TROIS-RIVIERES, Que — Pierre-Olivier Morin scored twice and added an assist as the eighth-ranked UQTR Patriotes doubled No.6 McGill 4-2 before an announced crowd of 857 at Le Colisee, Saturday, to sweep the OUA East men’s hockey final series in two games.
The Pats advance to the OUA gold medal game at Guelph on March 7 for the league’s Queen’s Cup championship, but both finalists have also qualified for the CIS Final 8. McGill (21-5-0) can still qualify for national championship tournament but must first make a 900-kilometre trek to Windsor and defeat the top-seeded Lancers in the OUA bronze medal game next Saturday at 8 p.m. Windsor, which finished first in the OUA West with a 22-4-1 record, was upset by sixth-seeded Guelph (11-13-3).
UQTR’s sweep over the Redmen snapped a seven-series losing streak to McGill and was the first time that they had beaten them in post-season play since 2005. McGill had a 37-36 edge in shots in yet another classic playoff battle between two bitter archrivals. The Redmen were 1-for-1 on the power-play and able to kill off all four shorthanded situations against UQTR, which had the OUA’s best power-play success rate.
“I was really pleased the way our guys battled today and thought that our compete-level was real good,” said McGill head coach Kelly Nobes, who owns a 25-8 playoff record in his five seasons at McGill and guided the team to its first-ever national title in 2012. “Unfortunately we just didn’t get the bounces… Those were things that we couldn’t control and that was disappointing because you certainly need to get a few of those to win a tight series like this and the Patriotes were fortunate to get those bounces, in both games.
“The positive thing about this season is that we get a mulligan. We talked about that in the dressing room after the game. It’s disappointing. We like to beat these guys. We’d like to go in (to the Nationals) through the front door (as league champions) but there’s a mulligan available and we’d like to utilize it. We finished first in the division and deserve to be there and we’re going to find a way to get ourselves there.”
UQTR broke the ice at 6:13 of the first period on a bizarre bounce when defenceman Martin Lefebvre fired a shot from the blueline that was wide of the net but ricocheted off the endboards and caromed into the net off the back of surprised Redmen goalkeeper Jacob Gervais-Chouinard.
Undaunted, the Redmen recovered from that unlucky turn of events and tied the game at 1-1 on a power-play when Jonathan Bonneau tapped in a rebound from blueliner Etienne Boutet. It was the first of two goals for the master’s student in kinesiology, a transfer from St. Thomas University in Fredericton.
The Pats regained the lead at 8:23 of the middle period when Morin potted his first of two, beating Chouinard on the short side with a high shot from the top of the faceoff circle. When Guillaume Asselin gave UQTR a 3-1 edge midway through the final period, it only seemed to fire up the Redmen and minutes later, Bonneau narrowed the gap to 3-2 at 13:02. But less than two minutes after that, Bonneau was penalized for goaltender interference after being pushed into the crease by a UQTR defender. After killing that penalty, the Redmen ran out of time and pulled the goalie, which led to an empty-netter by Morin.
Game, set and match.
Patriotes rookie goaltender Francis Desrosiers of St. Eustache, Que., continued his unlikely playoff run, improving to 6-0 in the post season. The 5-foot-9, 150-pound product of three different teams in the QMJHL only started in 10 of UQTR’s 26 games and took over as the Pats starter late in the season. He saved 35 of 37 shots in this game for the win, including two amazing stops in the final period on rockets fired by high-scoring McGill rearguard Samuel Labrecque.
At the other end of the ice, Gervais-Chouinard saved 32 of 35 shots for the Redmen as his playoff record tumbled to 4-3.
McGill, which has travelled a team record 16,249 kilometres this season, is planning on flying to Windsor instead of taking a nine-hour bus-ride like they did for a game there in the first semester, a 2-1 victory for the Redmen on Nov. 12. The winner of the bronze medal game will receive the OUA’s third and final berth at the CIS University Cup championship in Halifax, March 12-15. Last year, McGill bussed all the way to Windsor for the Queen’s Cup final and lost 3-2 on March 15, 2014.
REDMEN RAP: The McGill defensive corp has been ravaged over the past month… D Hugo Laporte has served his automatic one-game suspension incurred from the series opener against UQTR and is expected back in the lineup against Windsor… D Alexandre Chenevert, who was hurt in the last regular season game on Feb. 7, was back in the lineup after missing six playoff games… D Jean-Philip Mathieu (injured on Jan. 31) and D Domenic Poulin (Jan. 17) are not expected back this week and the status of senior centre Marc-Olivier Vachon (injured on Feb. 7) is uncertain.
McGill 2 at UQTR 4 (ENG)
(OUA East Final, GM-2; Saturday, February 28, 2015 – Le Colisee)
GOALS BY PERIOD:
McGill 1-0-1 — 2
UQTR 1-1-2 — 4
1, UQTR, Martin Lefebvre 2 (Asselin, Morin), 6:13.
2, McGill, Jonathan Bonneau 1 (Boutet, Pompei), 15:20 (PP).
Penalties-Brunelle Mcg (roughing after the whistle), 6:31; Delisle Uqtr (roughing after the whistle), 6:31; Delisle Uqtr (hooking), 14:07.
3, UQTR, Pierre-Olivier Morin 2 (Mimar), 8:23.
Penalties-Antonelli Mcg (holding opp. stick), 4:07; Chenevert Mcg (high sticking, high sticking), 15:51.
4, UQTR, Guillaume Asselin 3 (Belanger, Hotte), 8:23.
5, McGill, Jonathan Bonneau 2 (McNicoll, Delisle-Houde), 13:02.
6, UQTR, Pierre-Olivier Morin 3 (Tremblay), 19:17 (EN).
Penalties-Bonneau Mcg (inter. on goaltender), 14:55.
Shots on Goal-
McGill 9-13-15 — 37.
UQTR 10-14-11 –35.
Power Play Opportunities-
McGill 1 / 1;
UQTR 0 / 4.
Jacob Gervais-Chouinard (L, 4-3-0, 34 shots-31 saves; 59:16).
Empty-net (1 shot, 1 goal; 0:44)
Francis Desrosiers (W, 6-0-0, 37 shots-35 saves; 60:00).
Start: 7:07 PM
End: 9:18 PM
Referees-Alexandre Cote, Jonathan Trudel.
Linesmen-Daniel Bechard, Maxime Mongeon.
1. UQTR – 12 Pierre-Olivier Morin
2. MCG – 15 Jonathan Bonneau
3. UQTR – 30 Francis Desrosiers