Friday, January 25, 2008

Campus Corner: Can hockey keep it up?

In the final installment of Campus Corner for this week, here's my thoughts on the hockey teams. First, the men's team pulled off a very nice come-from-behind victory against RMC on Wednesday: the Journal was well-represented at the match, with Mike, Josh and myself all making the cross-town trip to Constantine Arena. I mentioned in a comment on Neate's blog earlier that I wasn't too impressed with the arena: to me, it felt way too small and cramped (the section we were sitting in was packed to the brim, and there were constantly people moving around looking for seats). Also, the penalty boxes weren't glassed in, which I haven't seen in a hockey rink before, and the whole arena's covered by white netting, making visibility pretty limited. Others think differently, though.

Anyways, on the game itself: it was a pretty impressive performance from the Gaels. What amazed me the most was one particular coaching decision on the part of Brett Gibson. Pat Doyle was flattened by RMC captain Luke Pierce, got up, skated up behind Pierce, reached around and yanked him down with his stick, taking an obvious and unnecessary penalty away from the play. As Mike pointed out in his article on the game, many coaches would have benched Doyle then and there. Gibson, who had already suspended Doyle for two games following an earlier pattern of poor play, took the opposite tactic though and moved Doyle to the top line with Brady Olsen and Jon Lawrance. The move paid off, with that line accounting for every Gaels' goal.

The other impressive factor was Olsen himself. He scored three times for Queen's, including a second goal that was one of the prettiest I've seen in a long time. Gibson's description of it to Mike was perfect.
“At any level you won’t find a nicer goal, and I’m not exaggerating one bit,” he said. “I stood on the bench and was in awe, I just couldn’t believe it. … There aren’t many kids that can do that.”

This is the third year I've seen Olsen play, and he's improved each year. He's doing particularly well this year, and is third in goals scored in both the OUA and the CIS. Unfortunately, he's in his fourth year of eligibility, so it will be interesting to see if he comes back next year, and if not, what happens to the team in his absence.

This weekend's games for hockey should be pretty good. Tonight's road game against Toronto is huge for the men: the Blues are only two points back, with a game in hand, so it could be decisive in terms of determining the division title. They also play Carleton Saturday night in Napanee. Oddly, despite the similarity in the teams' records (Queen's is 11-10-3 and Carleton is 11-10-2), their playoff positions are hardly similar: Queen's leads a weak Mid-East Division, while Carleton's in third in the Far East (and only a couple points ahead of Concordia and Ottawa). If Queen's can pull out two wins, they'll be in great shape: anything else will make the stretch run very interesting.

The women's team also plays this weekend, after a disappointing tie with UOIT last weekend. They take on two pretty strong teams in Windsor and Laurier. Queen's is currently in the middle of the standings, so a repeat of last year's OUA silver isn't looking all that likely at the moment, but as teams like the Edmonton Oilers and New York Giants have shown, seeding can become irrelevant once you get into the playoffs.

No comments:

Post a Comment