Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hockey does the splits while rugby steamrolls

Pretty decent two day show for the campus teams I was watching.

Gaels 70 - 3 University of Toronto Varsity Blues

Rugby performed the steamroller act we all know only too well against the lowly Varsity Blues over at Richardson Stadium. No one felt it necessary to tell me that as I stood shivering against the weather at Kingston Field before finding out about the location switch. A short cab ride over, and I asked a fan the score. The game kicked off at 1, I arrived at 1:20 - the fans had already lost count of the score. Now the scoreline isn't much of a surprise given the outcome of the last Gaels v Blues rugby match, but I thought the weather might have actually made an impact today.

Let me paint this picture the best way I can - miserable. Absolutely miserable. High winds, freezing cold, pouring rain (my notebook fell apart), not dry even under the makeshift tents set up at the endzone. The field was in such poor condition that a few tries were missed as a result of players sliding through the try zone and not getting the ball down in time. Absolutely. Fucking. Miserable.

But the talent prevailed, and the Varsity Blues' season (unsurprisingly) came to an end on the rainswept fields of Richardson Stadium. Next match for the Gaels - the Western Mustangs. This time they'll be visiting here, I went down to London to cover the last Western match (a dramatic 12-12 draw). Since we drew that one on a last-play try, I'd be interested to see how this one goes. There's some bad blood between the teams, many of the players know each other pretty well, suffice to say I'm really looking forward to next weekend.

Gaels 2 - 5 Carleton Ravens
Gaels 4 - 1 University of Toronto Varsity Blues

Friday night against the Ravens was an unfortunate game for the Gaels. They forechecked tenaciously, took the body hard*, and all-in-all just made life hell for the Ravens. Then they scored on a goaltender's mistake, and the Gaels lost their tenacity. Queen's started to regain their confidence towards the end of the period after a short burst of Carleton dominance, but couldn't buy a goal and, late in the second, Carleton made it 2-0 on a powerplay goal. The third period was just flat unfortunate for the Gaels, they pulled one back 1:20 in, and allowed three goals (scoring one halfway through).

Saturday night, Queen's seemed to figure it out. U of T is a formidable opponent (as far as hockey goes), there's a divisional rivalry and, judging by the hits and the talk of the players (I was sitting near the penalty boxes), personal rivalries there too. Some iffy refereeing throughout the game, a lot of no-calls and over-calls, but somehow the refs didn't lose control of the game. Queen's had one hell of a first period, scoring two goals in less than a minute and their third goal 8 minutes after that, taking a 3-0 lead into the period break (after killing a minute-long 5-on-3). The second period was largely a stonewall by Queen's. Toronto took 10 shots on goal (their lowest, believe it or not, period shot-count of the game), but Queen's survived. The third period saw UofT pull one back about halfway through, but Queen's pulled it back on an empty-netter with 39 seconds left (yeah, the OUA got it wrong there - they said it was with 30 seconds left. Pft). Solid night overall, though.

My biggest concern with the hockey team after this weekend is the defense. The Toronto game was hallmarked by some exceptionally clutch saves by goalie Brady Morrison, but it could have easily gone the other way. The Gaels were outshot 41-29 against Carleton and 38-18 against the Varsity Blues. Something that definitely needs to be remedied, as it's been said before - Morrison's good, but he's no Gibb**.

Oh, and also - the Sens fucked the bed tonight. That's about all I have to say about that.

* That's what she said
** I can't find any of Gibb's stats from this season at Laredo, but then the CHL season is about as fresh as the OUA one so, watcha gonna do. At any rate; this is what they say about him on the team page.

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