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RECAP: Special teams the difference for men’s hockey in weekend road swing

Photo of Cody Drover
Photo: Greg Mason

Special teams paid dividends for the men's hockey team this weekend, helping them to a 3-1 win over McGill on Friday, but hurting them in a 2-0 loss to the Carleton Ravens the next night.

"When two good teams face each other, a lot of times it comes down to special teams and goaltending," said head coach Patrick Grandmaître on Saturday. "[On Friday] we felt our special teams and goalie outplayed them and today we got outplayed on those things."

Ottawa opened the scoring on the power play at McConnell Arena on Friday. Connor Sills' shot was blocked and fell fortuitously to Cody Drover, who banged in his fourth goal of the season.

McGill leveled the score before the first period was out, but Anthony Brodeur stoned them the rest of the way, earning his fourth win of the season.

The Gee-Gees power play was looking like the one they iced in 2018-19, which averaged 24.1-percent. Médric Mercier blasted home a shot from the point on the man advantage – his third power play marker of the season, tying him for the team lead. The goal served as the game-winner and Kevin Domingue scored in an empty net to make the final score 3-1.

Ottawa had to work for it in the closing stages against McGill. A questionable roughing call put McGill on the man advantage with under six minutes to go. The penalty kill proved why it's among the best in Ontario though, holding the home team at bay.

It was a different story against the Ravens on Saturday night. Ottawa surrendered the first goal of the contest on the penalty kill when Matthew Forchuk slipped one past Domenic Graham. Sam Meisenheimer doubled the lead a few moments later.

The Gee-Gees had their opportunities, with Carleton handing them seven power plays. Ottawa failed to generate much offence when up a man and couldn't solve goaltender Justin Nichols.

"You've got to give them credit, they've got a good penalty kill," said Drover on Saturday. "Ultimately, the onus falls on us. We weren't executing and we didn't show up to play tonight. We've got to be better and we will be from here on out."

Midway through the third period, the Ravens took two penalties on the same sequence, giving Ottawa a full two minutes of 5-on-3, but the Gee-Gees again couldn't get anything going.

"Carleton are a bigger team that applies pressure – some teams sit back a bit more on the PK," said Grandmaître. "Games like that happen. It's not playoffs yet, so it's a good lesson. We've got to be better and start better. The second and third [periods] were even."

Ottawa continues its pursuit of the UQTR Patriotes (16-5-2) for second place in the OUA East. They are now two points behind their rivals from Quebec. The Gee-Gees now sit seven points clear of McGill (12-7-1) for fourth, although they've played two additional games.

The Garnet and Grey hit the road to face Queen's (9-11-1) on Friday, January 24 and return home to face Concordia (7-9-5) on Sunday, January 26, with puck drop at 3:00 p.m.