Brock and McGill set to faceoff in Queen’s Cup

The Brock Press

The Brock Press

Saturday night, when the puck drops for the Queen’s Cup in St. Catharines at the Seymour-Hannah Centre, there will be one team who was expected to be there, and one team that has caught their stride just at the right time.

The McGill Redmen, who are ranked fourth nationally, are exactly where everyone predicted they would be. The Redmen have prevailed against Laurentian, Ottawa and Concordia – the latter two taking the Redmen to three games – to reach the Queen’s Cup for the first time since 2014.

The Brock Badgers men’s hockey team has surprised everyone around the OUA and Canada after a third round series victory over the York Lions, earning them a spot in the Queen’s Cup — in addition to a berth at U SPORTS nationals next week in New Brunswick.

McGill is well-known for its hockey history, boasting alumni like Mike Babcock (head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and Guy Boucher (Ottawa Senators head coach). Other alum include Ken Dryden, former NHL goaltender for the Montreal Canadians, in addition to other notable alumni such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Rock and Roll hall of famer Leonard Cohen, and inventor of basketball James Naismith. 

The biggest challenge for the Redmen will be the travel. They are travelling to play against not only one of the hottest teams in the OUA – including one of the best goaltenders in the country – but they are also entering an arena that will be packed with fans who claim they are the best in Canada.

“They’re playing really well, I think it’s hard to call them an underdog with how they’re playing,” said McGill head coach Kelly Nobes. “[They’re] playing in front of their home crowd in their rink for the game.”

Nobes acknowledged that the play of Clint Windsor has played a huge role in Brock’s success throughout the playoffs.

“We prepare the way we do far all teams, you do the things you need to do to find ways to score. Every goalie has weaknesses and we’re going to try to find his,” said Nobes.

“Our resilience as a group, being able to work through the tough things: we lost the first game in the Ottawa series, lost the first game in the Concordia series, then went to overtime with the second game in that series, and the resiliency has really stood out,” said Nobes.

Brock head coach Marty Williamson said that McGill will be no easy task for the Badgers.

“Their team speed and their structure is outstanding, they’ve been the number one team all year and through the playoffs,” said Williamson. “It’s a big challenge, they’re a sound hockey team and we need our best game to compete with them.”

Though the Redmen will be one of their toughest games all season, the Badgers have been excelling with the game plan they’ve had throughout these playoffs.

“I don’t think we can switch our game too much, obviously you tweak a few things on faceoffs, power play, and penalty kill, but our overall game and how we use our bench and our players is a routine for us and we stick with it. It’s brought us success and we need to hang on to that,” Williamson explained.

Williamson says that after a playoff series ends, to prepare for the next one, you have to continue to get better, and said that this week his guys have rested and brought up the intensity.

“The back to back games with York really brought the level of hockey down to an extent, and [now] we’re going to be fresh. That’s where I think we’re at our best, we had a really good practice [Wednesday] and brought the intensity up.”

“Bringing that renewed sharpness to our game, we relied too heavily on Clint in the York game, [but] they’re a fresh group. It’s back to work and get them ready to peak on Saturday,” said Williamson.

Behind the bench

Williamson is in his first season at the helm of the Brock program. Previously, he coached the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs for six seasons and the OHL’s Barrie Colts for six seasons prior to coming to Niagara. In his first year, he has taken the Badgers on their deepest playoff run in 10 years, and has led the team to a national tournament berth. Williamson’s Badgers have compiled a 20-16 record so far this season, and are winners of eight of their last nine games dating back to the final weekend of the regular season. Williamson was also named the OUA West division coach of the year this week.

Nobes is in his eighth season behind the bench for the Redmen. In Nobes first season with McGill, he guided his team to a Queen’s Cup title, and a silver medal at the CIS national tournament — held in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Nobes has led the Redmen to three Queen’s Cup titles, and one CIS championship (their only in school history) in three tournament appearances (2011, 2012 and 2014). Prior to taking over at his alma mater, Nobes coached the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks for five seasons, and RMC for four seasons. Nobes was named OUA East division coach of the year this week.

Head-to-head

Brock travelled to Quebec in October, playing McGill on day two of their road trip. The Redmen took home the win in a close 3-2 contest. Clint Windsor made 49 saves for the Badgers that night, while McGill’s goaltender Joe Fleschler made 21 saves on 23 shots on the night.

Regular season results

Brock Badgers

Record: 14-14

Home: 10-4

Away: 4-10

Goals for: 77

Goals against: 70

PP percentage: 12.9 per cent

PK percentage: 84.8 per cent

Save percentage: .931 per cent*

Shots per game: 31.4

McGill Redmen

Record: 22-6

Home: 12-2

Away: 10-4

Goals for: 112

Goals against: 65*

PP percentage: 17.9 per cent

PK percentage: 88.4 per cent

Save percentage: .914 per cent

Shots per game: 40.03

Playoff statistics

Brock Badgers

Record: 6-1

Home: 2-1

Away: 4-0

Goals for: 26

Goals against: 16

PP percentage: 23.8 per cent

PK percentage: 87.5 per cent

Save percentage: .946 per cent*

Shots per game: 29.1

McGill Redmen

Record: 6-2

Home: 3-2

Away: 3-0

Goals for: 36*

Goals against: 17

PP percentage: 20.6 per cent

PK percentage: 76.0 per cent

Save percentage: .923 per cent

Shots per game: 37.6

*=1st place in the OUA

Leading scorers – regular season

Brock Badgers

Goals: Ayden MacDonald (9)

Assists: Josh Timpano, Dexter Weber (13)

Points: Four tied at 17

McGill Redmen

Goals: Christophe Lalonde (13)

Assists: Jerome Verrier (29)

Points: Jerome Verrier (41)

Leading scorers – playoffs

Brock Badgers

Goals: Cosimo Fontana (6)

Assists: Cosimo Fontana (5)

Points: Cosimo Fontana (11)

McGill Redmen

Goals: Guillaume Gauthier (6)

Assists: Jerome Verrier (9)

Points: Jerome Verrier (14)

Goaltending match-up

Clint Windsor (expected – Brock)

Regular season statistics

Record: 12-12

Goals against: 64

Saves: 852

GAA: 2.51

Save percentage: .930 per cent

Playoff statistics

Record: 6-1

Goals against: 16

Saves: 283

GAA: 2.18

Save percentage: .946 per cent

Louis-Philip Guindon (expected – McGill)

Regular season statistics

Record: 18-6

Goals against: 52

Saves: 574

GAA: 2.22

Save percentage: .917 per cent

Playoff statistics

Record: 6-2

Goals against: 15

Saves: 198

GAA: 1.91

Save percentage: .930 per cent

 

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