The Gee-Gees men's hockey team completed a thrilling comeback in their game Sunday and in their OUA semi-final series against the UQTR Patriotes. Although they trailed 2-0 at the end of the first period, the team roared back to win the game 4-2 in front of a shocked crowd in Trois-Rivières, Que.
The team lost the opening game of the series in Trois-Rivières, but flipped the script by winning game two in Ottawa and the decisive game three on Sunday.
The team advances to the OUA East Final to face the Concordia Stingers. The winner of that best-of-three series will play for the Queen's Cup and earn a berth to the 2020 U SPORTS National Championship.
"It's another step in the right direction," said Gee-Gees head coach Patrick Grandmaître. "We haven't gone to this step – we've been close. I'm happy for our program, especially with a bunch of seniors here. They get to experience a third round and have the chance to go to Nationals, so it's a pretty sweet feeling."
The Gee-Gees dominated the opening period, but found themselves trailing 2-0. They outshot the Patriotes 20-6 through the first 20 minutes.
"We felt like our game was there," said Grandmaître. "There was no panic in the room. Domenic Graham told the boys 'I'm not giving them one more, I've got you guys.' The boys kept going. The game rewards you sometimes and today we got rewarded."
The Garnet and Grey came out flying in the second period. It took less than five minutes for the Gee-Gees to claw back into the game, with Cody Drover tipping home a Nicolas Mattinen point shot on the power play.
Moments later, Ottawa broke in on a rush and, as has happened countless times over the years, Drover fed Kevin Domingue, who snipped the puck past Sébastien Auger, levelling the score.
The biggest goal to this point in program history followed, with Marco Azzano beating Auger with a one-timer to give the Gee-Gees their first lead of the game.
"Quinn [O'Brien] made a beautiful pass right back into the slot, and luckily enough it went into the net," said Azzano. "Just thank God that it happened – we've been working really hard on and off the ice and we're humbled that things are going our way."
As expected, the Patriotes turned it on in the third, outshooting Ottawa 15-11. Domenic Grahams stood tall in the Gee-Gees goal and Ottawa killed a late penalty. Jacob Sweeney fired the puck into the empty net in the final minute, sending Gee-Gees fans everywhere into euphoria.
Graham made 23 saves in the game, while Auger turned aside 45 shots in a losing effort.
Ottawa relied on four clutch penalty kills to maintain their lead down the stretch and went 1-for-4 on the man advantage in the game.
The OUA East Final will get underway on Thursday, February 27 in Ottawa. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. Game two will take place in Montreal on Saturday, February 29. Should a decisive third game be needed, it will be at the Minto Sports Complex on Sunday, March 1.