The UOIT Ridgebacks face a huge challenge as they head into the next two games against the UQTR Patriotes in the second round of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men’s hockey playoffs.
The Ridgebacks may need to work on their defence for the upcoming games, but according to head coach, Curtis Hodgins, he was happy with the effort of the team after falling 6-1 to the Patriotes in the opening game of the best-of-three series on Feb. 24 at the Campus Ice Centre.
Game two goes Saturday in Trois-Rivières, Que., with a third game if necessary, Sunday, also in Quebec.
“We got to create more offence, we have to find a way. They play real good defence and we have to find a way to get to their goalie and score some more goals, but I wasn’t unhappy with our effort,” says Hodgins.
Both teams came out fighting, with more than half a dozen penalties between the two teams throughout the game.
The Patriotes opened up the scoring in the first period with a goal by forward Mathieu Lemay five minutes into the game.
Both teams battled for control but with just more than seven minutes left in the period, Patriotes’ forward Pierre-Maxime Poudrier sunk the second goal of the game. Less than a minute later, Patriotes’ defender Martin Lefebvre scored again, putting the Patriotes up 3-0 by the end of the first.
“We wanted to get in and keep this game tight and next thing you know we’re behind 3-0,” says Hodgins.
The Ridgebacks regrouped and came back for the second but were outplayed by the Patriotes, with the fourth goal of the game and first of the period scored by Patriotes’ defender, Mikael Langlois. Pierre-Olivier Morin extended the lead to 5-0 halfway through the second period.
Anthony Verret made it 6-0 when he scored 2:19 into the third period, but the Ridgebacks weren’t going down without a fight. Tensions were high throughout the period as both teams were fighting for the puck. Ridgebacks’ left-winger, Mike Robinson broke UQTR’s shutout bid with a goal with five seconds left in the game.
“We’ll just regroup mentally as much as anything and clean up a couple things in practice and get on that bus and get down there and try and steal one from them and put the pressure back on them,” says Hodgins.
The Ridgebacks go on the road to face the Patriotes for the final two games in the three-game series, which they must win to advance to the next round of the OUA playoffs.
The next game is set for Saturday, Feb. 27 in Trois-Rivières, Que. at 4 p.m.