The Gee-Gees men's hockey team clinched a playoff berth on Saturday with a 5-1 win over the UQTR Patriotes, but fell 4-1 the next day as they split their weekend series with their rivals from Quebec.
"This was playoff hockey, it was pretty intense," said head coach Patrick Grandmaître after Sunday's loss. "Typically when you play back-to-back, there's a little bit more edgy play because some stuff just boils over from the game before. These are two good teams that played hard – it was definitely chippy out there."
Ottawa played stellar hockey Saturday evening. Despite giving up a goal within the first two minutes, the Gee-Gees cruised to a four-goal victory. Antoine Pouliot tallied twice, while Yvan Mongo's second period dangle around netminder Sébastien Auger served as the game winner.
Domenic Graham was solid when called upon, making 24 saves for his tenth win of the season. It is the first time in Graham's five-year U SPORTS career (four of which were spent with Nipissing) that he has attained double-digit wins.
The visitors flipped the script on Sunday afternoon, holding out to a 3-0 lead at the midway point of the contest.
Sills made things interesting when he forced the puck past Auger with a power move to the net, but the 3-1 score would be as close as Ottawa would get, despite outshooting the Patriotes 37-7 in the final two periods.
Dominic Cormier picked up an assist on Sills' goal. The rookie rearguard now leads the conference in assists among defencemen with 17, and his 20 points are second-most.
"The guys have been getting me used to the game," said Cormier. "I have a great defence partner with Nick Mattinen and we play well together. We're making a push for the playoffs and we'll be ready to go."
The Gee-Gees went 0-for-6 on the man advantage Sunday afternoon. One of their power play opportunities came with under three minutes left. Trailing by two, Ottawa pulled Graham, but couldn't convert on the 6-on-4.
"They had a better start than us both games," said Grandmaître. "We had a lot of shots, but not as many scoring chances [on Sunday]. I'm not happy with the way we started in either game. We have to figure out why we didn't come out as hard as we should have."
The penalty kill went 4-for-5 on the weekend, with the lone goal conceded being off a 5-on-3. Ottawa's penalty kill remains the best in Ontario at 91.7 percent.
Ottawa (14-5-2) now sits in third place in the OUA East, two points behind UQTR with a game in hand. An important weekend of hockey awaits the Gee-Gees, as they travel to face McGill (12-6-1) on Friday. and Carleton (18-3-1) on Saturday. Ottawa is five points clear of McGill and seven points behind Carleton in the standings.