For the sixth time in seven years, the UQTR Patriotes have put an end to the Queen’s Cup playoff hopes of the Carleton Ravens.
Buoyed by a timely goal from graduating star Guillaume Asselin, strong goaltending from Sebastien Auger, and a whole lot of puck luck, the Pats registered a 3-2 victory over the Ravens at the Carleton Ice House on Sunday night, to claim a 2-1 series victory in their OUA East quarter-final.
The win completed an unlikely comeback for UQTR, which was outplayed for long stretches of the three-game series and had to grit its teeth and grind out Monday’s win on the road.
“It was a close series, with two teams that know each other very well,” UQTR head coach Marc-Etienne Hubert told CUSN post-game. “It’s a shame we met this early, as I think our team and the Ravens are two of the best in the OUA, but that’s how it worked out this year and it’s a big (win) for us.”
The two teams battled through 40 minutes, the first 20 dominated by Carleton, the second 20 by UQTR, to a 2-2 tie.
Asselin’s game-winning goal, just over two minutes into the third period, came as a result of a beautiful solo skate by UQTR’s Vincent Lemay.
Despite two power plays and three posts for the Ravens in the final 17 minutes, the Pats managed to hang on for as gritty a win as this writer has ever seen them record.
“They were special and (that) made the difference tonight,” said Hubert of his penalty-killers, who made a number of heroic blocks and shut down one of Canada’s top power play units on Carleton. “The Ravens had the special-teams advantage in Game One, but tonight our special teams were incredible—hats off to my players and goaltender.”
The mood outside the Carleton room was markedly different, with longtime head coach Marty Johnston near-speechless in his post-game presser.
“They’re a very well-coached, skilled team,” said Johnston robotically of the Pats. “But this one hurts.”
Indeed. Carleton was loaded up for a deep run in the 2017 playoffs, but with the likes of Mike McNamee, Ryan Van Stralen and Corey Durocher all graduating, there are now some serious holes to fill offensively.
Johnston traced the turning point in the series to the Ravens’s poor start in Game 2.
“We didn’t come out with the urgency we needed to, and that gave them hope,” said the deflated former Hull Olympique. “Anything can happen in a winner-take-all game. You can’t fault our guys, they gave everything they had, but it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Brett Welychka, Adam Chapman and Nathan Todd should be back for the Ravens, but that will be of little consolation on a night where they likely deserved a better fate against a pesky Pats team that has now had their number through nearly three player cycles.