The landscape of OUA university hockey may have shifted a bit. It was announced today that Ryan Gibb has left the league to sign a pro contract with the Laredo (Texas) Bucks of the Central Hockey League. Gibb, the star goaltender for the Mid-East Division champion Queen's Golden Gaels, led CIS goalies last year with a .929 save percentage and recorded 11 wins for the Gaels. He was the OUA Rookie of the year in 2007, the OUA East MVP last season and the primary reason that the Gaels enjoyed so much success: they won only two games when he wasn't between the pipes. Now, he's jumped to the same league that claimed forward Brady Olsen, Queen's leading scorer, last month.
The Gaels do have some depth: they have another talented goalie with OHL experience in Brady Morrison, who played reasonably well last season. However, despite Morrison's play, the team had a great deal of difficulty winning in front of him. Part of that is probably due to the large amounts of rubber any Queen's goalie is going to see: Gibb averaged almost 38 shots against per game over his 46 career appearances. When you're facing that many shots, very good isn't going to cut it: for the team to win, you have to stand on your head. We'll see if Morrison has the ability to do that.
This is another tough break for the Gaels, as Gibb's the third star athlete with eligibility remaining they've lost to the pros in just the last couple months. First-team All-Canadian running back Mike Giffin was drafted 17th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while Olsen signed a pro contract with the Rapid City Rush. The absence of both Gibb and Olsen, who were crucial to the team's success last year, may very well change the balance of power in the OUA Mid-East Division. The U of T Varsity Blues almost claimed the division last year, and the title only fell to the Gaels after the Blues lost their last two games. They'll be strong again next year, and RMC and Ryerson weren't that far behind last season. It may be a very difficult task for the Gaels to repeat as division champions without their top scorer and their starting goalie.
More thoughts on this over at Sporting Madness.