The Gee-Gees men's hockey team faces a do-or-die game two on home ice Friday evening after falling to the UQTR Patriotes on the road on Wednesday. The Pats took the first game of the best-of-three OUA East semi-final series by a 2-1 score.
"I thought we played a good road game," said Gee-Gees head coach Patrick Grandmaître. "We had more chances than them and we played well on our penalty kill and hit the post with a few minutes left."
The game was played at a furious pace, as was expected from two nationally ranked teams. The Gee-Gees took two of the three games in the regular season, but nevertheless finished in second place, three points behind UQTR.
Just like in game one of their first round series against Ontario Tech, the Gee-Gees opened the scoring. An errant clearing attempt fell right on the stick of captain Quinn O'Brien, who made no mistake finding the back of the net. Goaltender Sébastien Auger never saw the puck fly past him for O'Brien's second career playoff goal with the Gee-Gees.
"You need guys like Quinn in the playoffs," said Grandmaître. "We've been getting good support from our depth players."
Ottawa looked to have the first period closed out, but a last second shot from the Patriotes found the back of the net. The goal was fraught with controversy, as it seemed that the horn had sounded well before the puck was shot by Loik Léveillé. After a discussion, it was deemed a good goal by the officiating crew.
"The frustrating thing about that goal is that we have an iPad on the bench and we can review plays like this," said Grandmaître. "The green light behind the goal turned on to signal the end of the period and the UQTR player still had his stick in the air getting ready to shoot.
"The goal was scored a good second after the buzzer."
UQTR took the lead midway through the second period, when William Leblanc pounced on a rebound. The goal would serve as the game winner.
The Gee-Gees kept the game close and hung around into the third period. They managed to kill off a four-minute powerplay after Daniel Hardie was sent to the box for spearing.
Ottawa was rewarded with a late powerplay of their own, but despite lots of pressure, couldn't solve a stingy UQTR penalty kill, which went 3-for-3 on the evening. The Gee-Gees were 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Domenic Graham stopped 27 of 29 shots he faced, while Auger made 39 saves, improving his playoff save percentage to .947.
The series now shifts to Ottawa, where the Gee-Gees will aim to keep their season alive on Friday, February 21 at the Minto Sports Complex. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. If necessary, a third and deciding game will be played in Trois-Rivières on Sunday, February 23.