Paladins respectable season coming to a close

 

Caption: First year officer cadet, 27769 Owen Gill, is shown breaking down the left side and preparing to fire the puck on net. Prior to suiting up with the Paladins, Owen toiled for four seasons for his hometown Brockville Braves of the Central Canada Hockey League.

Paladins respectable season coming to a close

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

If it was, perhaps, inevitable, it is also part of the process, Richard Lim believes, in making the Royal Military College Paladins a respectable hockey team.

“This one stings a little bit,” the Paladins coach said, after his hockey team was waxed at the Constantine Arena Friday night, 13-0 by the Trois-Rivieres Patriotes.

“For as good as we’ve been, and we are headed in the right direction, we’re bound to have a game or two like this,” Lim continued.

“We’ve demanded a lot (of the players); it’s been a long season. We’ve had four games where we’ve played in front of big crowds this month. This is the first game we’ve played at home in two months, the first game we haven’t had over 1,500 people there.

“With us finally being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (the previous night), the stars aligned for disaster. You could tell the guys definitely weren’t mentally into it.”

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“Teams in this league are not going to take it easy on you.”

Richard Lim

Link to Carr/Harris photos – below…

“It’s something we’ve got to push through, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Paladins have played well since re-convening after the Christmas break. They won two of their four Ontario University Athletics games in January, with a goals-against average of less than 2.00, and they played a spirited match with West Point, losing 4-3.

On Thursday night, before a CIS-best crowd this season of 3,363 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre, they fell 6-2 to the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the 30th annual Carr-Harris Cup game.

It was RMC’s seventh loss in the last eight Carr-Harris games, and Queen’s 20th win in the series that was begun to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first RMC-Queen’s game, on the ice of Kingston’s harbour in 1886.

“I don’t think it was necessarily a 6-2 game,” Lim said. “I thought we played better than the scoreboard indicated but Queen’s is a very good hockey team and if you give them chances, they don’t miss. They have a lot of high-end offence and a really good goalie. We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them.”

The Paladins skated with the Gaels, but they could not match their civilian rivals’ puck skills, and that ultimately led to RMC’s demise. Two misplays of the puck led to Queen’s goals, and the inability to put rebounds behind Gaels goaltender Kevin Bailie cost RMC a couple of its own.

“We competed,” Lim said. “We had our points in the game where we carried the play. I don’t think it was a dominating performance (by Queen’s). We had our chances. A bounce here or there when it’s a two-goal game and maybe we can get a late push to try to tie it.”

Instead, the Paladins gave up a stinker and, once down by three goals, Lim admitted, it was going to be difficult to come back against Bailie, the leading intercollegiate goaltender in Canada.

“(Coming back from) two is tough,” Lim said. “We needed to get traffic on him and try and get rebounds. There were definitely some rebounds sitting there but they collapsed well and he’s a tough goalie. You’re not going to score a lot of straight-in shots on him.”

The goal that put Queen’s ahead 5-2 in the middle of the second period came after RMC was unable to keep the puck in the Gaels zone at the blue line. The Paladins loafed after the puck as it rolled into their end of the rink and when goaltender Matthew Beirnes misplayed it at the side of the net, Alex Stothart of Queen’s had an empty net to shoot at when the puck came to him at the front of the crease.

Coming as it did, when it did, was discouraging, Lim said.

“We’re down two, but we’re sort of pushing and playing well and feeling good about ourselves,” Lim said. “A lot of guys made a lot of mistakes before (Beirnes misplayed the puck). It’s the old cliché that when a goalie makes a mistake, everyone notices it right away.”

It was a bad night for the Paladins to be suffering from a Carr-Harris hangover. Trois-Rivieres scored four times in the first period, five in the second—including three goals in a span of 66 seconds to take their lead to 9-0 before the game’s 35th minute—and four more in the third.

The Patriotes needed just 38 shots on goal to do it.

“It’s tough scheduling,” Lim said. “Playing Thursday night in front of a capacity crowd and having that emotional energy of being in a big game like that, and playing pretty well against a very good hockey team, (then to face) the No. 3 team in Canada.

“UQTR came in last night and had a full night’s rest, had a nice morning skate, a full day off, just relaxing, to be prepared. Our guys didn’t get off the ice until 9:30 last night, and had a full day of classes. It’s fatigue, a little letdown after the atmosphere (of Thursday’s game), as well as not being not mentally in the game.

“Teams in this league are not going to take it easy on you.”

Marc-Olivier Mimar had three goals and two assists to lead Trois-Rivieres. Guillaume Asselin, the nation’s leading scorer with 26 goals, also scored three times for the Patriotes, who won their sixth game in a row since they lost to Queen’s to begin their post-Christmas schedule. Tommy Giroux added two goals and two assists to the Trois-Rivieres onslaught.

In his first start of the season, Charles-Etienne Martin made 19 saves for the shutout.

On Thursday against Queen’s, Owen Gill and Scott Domenico scored for RMC. Gill’s goal midway through the first period briefly tied the game 1-1 but instead of providing the Paladins with some impetus, the goal spurred Queen’s to score twice in the next three minutes for a two-goal lead the Gaels would maintain for the remainder of the game.

“Sometimes a team needs a little wakeup call when you come out of the gate slow,” said Patrick McGillis, who scored those pivotal two goals for Queen’s. “I know we sored one early but we weren’t playing the right way, and when they put one in the net it was a little bit of a wakeup call for our team.

“The one thing you can always count on with RMC is they’re going to work hard and they’re going to be physical, so you’ve got to match the intensity that they bring and, hopefully, that’s where our skill level takes over and we end up with a couple more goals.”

 More photos from the 2016 Carr/Harris Cup – Here