OUA UNCOVERED: 2014-15 season in review
GRYPHONS DEFEAT UQTR PATRIOTES 4-0 O CLAIM FIRST QUEEN’S CUP IN 18 YEARS Guelph, ON - Officially, the capacity at the Gryphon Centre is listed at 1,300. As the years pass, it will be interesting to see how many thousands more claim they were there the night the Gryphons were crowned OUA Champions. On Saturday March 7th in front of a soldout crowd, the University of Guelph men’s hockey team won 4-0 over the UQTR Patriotes (L’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières) in the 104th Queen’s Cup. With the victory, the Gryphons claim their first OUA title since 1997. In short, the Gryphons played nearly perfect hockey in all aspects of the game on Saturday night, and it would not take long before the capacity crowd had something to cheer about. Just 56 seconds into the game Guelph’s leading scorer and OUA All-Star Nick Huard (North Bay, ON) sent the crowd into a frenzy when his snap shot through traffic flew into the top corner to give the Gryphons an early 1-0 lead. That was the start of an impressive opening 20 minutes by the Gryphons who came close to doubling their lead on several occassions. Teal Burns (Victoria, BC) led a 2-on-1 break and would fire a shot low blocker side that Patriotes goalie Francis Desrosiers was just able to keep from squeaking through. After an entertaining, and physical opening period, the Gryphons led 1-0 heading to the second. The second period would start off exactly like the first, with an early goal from the Gryphons. This time, it would take the Gryphons just 40 seconds into the period to score.
Scott Simmonds (Uxbridge, ON) fired a perfectly placed shot over the shoulder of Desrosiers and under the crossbar for his third goal of the playoffs to give the Gryphons a 2-0 lead. Over the next five minutes, UQTR would try desperately to get back into the game, but the Gryphons stood strong defensively, blocking shots and using some great stick checks to keep the Patriotes at bay.
UQTR would have a chance on the power play to finally get on the board, but Guelph’s standout rookie goalie Andrew D’Agostini was once again at his best for the Gryphons. D’Agostini made several key stops, stretching to get a pad on one puck, sliding over to turn away a one-timer shortly after, before finally flashing the leather to make an impressive glove save.
With 1:37 remaining in the period, the first penalty of the game would be called, and it would come against the Gryphons as Michael Hasson was given a double minor for high sticking. Not only were the Gryphons able to kill off the first half of that double minor late in the period, they actually created a short-handed chance of their own.
The end of the game would get a bit chippy as the teams would trade penalties in the last four minutes, but ultimately, the outcome was never in doubt. As the final seconds ticked away, the crowd would rise to their collective feet as the Gryphons swarmed D’Agostini while helmets, gloves and sticks flew through the air.
When the horn sounded at the end of the second period, the Gryphons held a 2-0 lead and sat 20 minutes away from an OUA Championship. Guelph’s penalty kill unit would pick up where they left off after the intermission, successfully killing off all four minutes of UQTR’s man advantage. With momentum, and the crowd, clearly on their side, the Gryphons would get another scoring chance as Scott Simmonds streaked into the zone and picked the top corner for his second goal of the night to give the Gryphons a 3-0 lead. The Gryphon fans barely had any time to celebrate that goal, as just nine seconds later Nick Huard would score his second goal of the night, as his wrist shot trickled through the five-hole of Desrosiers and in to make it 4-0 Gryphons with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation. At that point, the party was on. The 104th Queen’s Cup was within reach.
The 4-0 win marked the eighth provincial title in program history and first since 1997. D’Agostini was named Harrow Player of the Game for the 104th Queen’s Cup, making 18 saves in the shutout. Nick Huard was named the Porter Player of the Playoffs, finishing with seven goals in nine games. Gryphons head coach Shawn Camp said after the game, “This is what we were shooting for since the beginning of the season. We got off to a great start to the game and gave ourselves every opportunity to win.” When asked about the hometown crowd, Camp added “this is the biggest crowd I have ever seen here, and it made a big difference. It was great that we were able to get off to a good start and get the crowd involved early. They were tremendous all night and the guys really appreciated the support.”