It probably wasn’t the way that head coach Brett Gibson drew things up, but in the end the Queen’s Golden Gaels walked away from a difficult weekend double-header against the #7 Windsor Lancers with four points.
The weekend's game plan ultimately ended up going something like this: allow goaltender Kevin Bailie to carry the team, and then capitalize on quick flurries of offense.
That improvisation was certainly in full effect in Friday night’s game at the historic Kingston Memorial Centre.
Bailie was tested early, as Queen’s took three penalties in the first period to Windsor’s one. The Lancers managed to fire 14 shots on net, but Bailie was able to withstand the pressure. Not to be outdone, Parker Van Buskirk stopped all 10 shots he faced in the Windsor goal.
Windsor, the CIS leaders in team penalty minutes, fell back into their usual undisciplined habits in the second period, but managed to keep the pressure up throughout the second frame. Despite having four power play opportunities, Queen’s managed to put the puck on net just three times. Windsor, on the other hand, tested Bailie eight times, but he was able to stand tall.
In the third period, Queen’s came out to a flying start. Jordan Coccimiglio netted his first of the season at the 3:28 mark of the final frame, off some nice passing between Corey Bureau and Chris Van Laren.
Queen’s managed to maintain the attack through the better part of the first ten minutes of the period, but Van Buskirk stopped everything the Gaels threw at him. Then it was the Lancers turn to put Bailie against the ropes. No matter what they did, Windsor couldn’t beat Bailie, and with less than three and a half minutes to go, Patrick McEachen added an insurance marker for Queen’s on a hard slap shot from the point.
Kelly Jackson went on to slot his seventh goal of the season into the empty net, as the Gaels buried the Lancers 3-0, despite being outshot 31-28.
In the second game in as many nights, the Lancers continued to struggle to find a way to beat Bailie. The Gaels, however, didn’t have to wait until the third period to score in the rematch, as Jordan Soquila put them ahead just under eight minutes into the first period.
On a power play opportunity just over three minutes later, Windsor finally solved the Queen’s netminder. Spencer Pommells slipped one by Bailie, with assists from Kenny Bradford and Evan Stibbard.
Despite the breakthrough, Bailie wouldn’t rattle. Windsor managed to pick up 15 shots in the first period alone, but could only break through the one time.
In the second, Queen’s built themselves a lead. Taylor Clements scored his fifth of the year quickly, giving the Gaels the lead at the 4:56 mark. The Gaels went on the power play a couple of minutes later, and Patrick McGillis was able to extend the lead to two on a goal set-up by Patrick McEachen and Stephane Chabot.
With just 5:28 remaining in the middle frame, Braeden Corbeth bought the Gaels some insurance with a commanding 4-1 lead.
After some early pressure led to no results, Windsor fell back into their rough style of play. The Lancers picked up 17 penalty minutes in the final frame alone, as well as a Josh Graves game misconduct for checking from behind with just 13 seconds to go. The Gaels picked up 12 shots on the numerous power play opportunities, but were unable to extend their lead further, as the buzzer sounded with a 4-1 Queen’s victory.
Over the course of the weekend, Bailie stopped 64 of 65 shots and improved his goals against average to a commanding 1.67, which is tops in the OUA and fifth in the CIS. His save percentage also moved to .942 which is good enough for third in CIS play.
As a team, the victories moved Queen’s to 8-0-5 and they sit at the top of the conference, as they remain the only team in the OUA to have not lost in regulation. With home games against Ottawa and Laurentian next weekend, Queen’s look poised to take that distinction into the December break.
Windsor, meanwhile, fell to 9-4-0 and, having lost three of their last four, should expect to kiss their Top 10 status goodbye. The Lancers continue their road trip next weekend as they travel to London and St. Catharines to face Western and Brock. They then get two weeks off to prepare for their Hockeytown Winter Festival outdoor game against Western at Comerica Park in Detroit, as one of many undercards to the Leafs-Red Wings Winter Classic.
Join us next week as our OUA Game of the Week will cover Saturday’s afternoon matchup between the OUA West-leading Toronto Varsity Blues and the #6 UQTR Patriotes.