Though their Cinderella story hasn’t yet come to an end, it certainly feels like there’s a missing page. The Brock Badgers men’s hockey team fell 5-1 to the McGill Redmen in front of their home crowd Saturday night for the Queen’s Cup.
McGill jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes, but Brock got within one after a 5-on-3 powerplay goal from Ayden MacDonald just over eight minutes into the second period.
Things started to go downhill for Brock about 15 minutes into the second period. At 14:45 into the second, Brock’s Mack Lemmon took a hooking penalty. McGill only got 40 seconds of 5-on-4 play before Brock’s goaltender Clint Windsor took a slashing penalty. The Badgers were then facing a 5-on-3, and the Redmen wasted no time. At 16:14, McGill’s Guillaume Gauthier scored for the Redmen on the power play. Just over a minute after the Redmen’s third goal of the night, Clint Windsor was called for delay of game for his net being knocked off, putting McGill back on the power play. Just 48 seconds later, Christophe Lalone notched another power play goal. Just about everyone in the crowd, upset with the officiating, was ready for the period to end. The Badgers’ penalty woes continued into the final minute of the period, as Dallas Rossiter took a slashing penalty with 56 seconds to go, and Ayden MacDonald took a slashing penalty with 17 seconds to go. Facing yet another 5-on-3 penalty kill, the Badgers gave up their fifth goal just as the clock ran out in the second period.
Though it was the last goal McGill would get, things didn’t get better for the Badgers. There were glimpses of good plays for Badgers in the third period, but McGill commanded the game from puck drop to the final buzzer.
“[The officiating] compounded the problem, we took the two penalties that put us down 5-on-3,” said head coach Marty Williamson. “The lesson is, when you get to this level, you can’t have a six minute brain fade. We caused our own problems.”
Though some of the calls during the second period were questionable, Williamson noted that the Badgers took a lot of stick penalties that are preventable.
“I thought we were nervous at the beginning, we weren’t quite thinking about our positions, when we got it to 2-1, I thought it was going to be more like our kind of games,” said Williamson. “You can survive those other calls, but not when you’re compounding your own problem.”
Despite the loss in the Queen’s Cup final, the Badgers have a quick turnaround ahead. They will depart for New Brunswick on Tuesday and begin their quest for a national title on Thursday.
For all the Badger players, they’ve experienced a lot of firsts this season. First time winning a playoff series, and first time playing for a Queen’s Cup and national championship.
“I think these games help going through it, it’s a big stage that they’re on and they’ve never been there,” said Williamson. “Those teams, the UNB and Alberta teams, they have an advantage because they’ve been there every year, but that’s what we’re trying to build here, and these guys have set the tone, and I’m grateful for that. It’s a starting point for us.”
When the seeding for the tournament was released on Sunday, the Badgers found themselves in the fourth seed (University of New Brunswick at one, Alberta at two, McGill at three, St. Francis Xavier at five, Saskatchewan at six, Acadia at seven and Concordia at eight).
St. Francis Xavier will be Brock’s quarterfinal opponent at the tournament. The X-Men (who play in the Atlantic University Sport conference) finished second overall, behind the UNB Varsity Reds. They finished with an overall conference record of 22-4-4, and went 2-2-1 against New Brunswick.
In their conference playoffs, St. Francis Xavier played Acadia in the semifinal series (best three-of-five). The teams battled out the series in five games, with the X-Men taking game five by a score of 6-5 to move on to the league finals against UNB.
In the best two-of-three championship series, UNB swept St. Francis Xavier 2-0, with UNB taking game one 6-3 and game two 5-0.
The winner of the Brock/St. Francis Xavier game will play the winner of Concordia/UNB.
With the short break between the Queen’s Cup and the beginning of their tournament, the Badgers will have to move on from their loss quickly and shift their focus to St. Francis Xavier.
“Take care of themselves, get rested, it’s a big week for us out there and [they need to] block out the white noise and make sure they’re doing the right things,” said Williamson.
Brock will begin their quest for a national championship on Thursday at noon against St. Francis Xavier X-Men. The winner of the quarterfinal match-up will move on to play the winner between top-seeded New Brunswick and fellow OUA member Concordia Stingers.