After 48 memorable years at the Lady Beaverbrook Rink, it’s time for the Tommies to move on.
In front of just over 600 people on Friday night, they came up short in overtime losing to Université de Moncton 4-3.
For photos from the game click here.
The night couldn’t have started worse for the Tommies. Maxime Pilon gave U de M the lead only 39 seconds in when he pushed the puck past Tommies’ goalie Charles Lavigne after a nice pass from behind the net by Dean Ouellet.
U de M doubled their lead only 26 seconds later when Simon Lacroix put a wrister five hole on Lavigne.
The horrid start forced Tommies’ head coach Troy Ryan to call an early timeout.
“Honestly… I was scared after those first two went in,” Ryan said. “There’s so many people here that want us to do well tonight, so hats off to our guys for hanging in there.”
The Tommies responded at the 3:44 mark. Chris Morehouse scored his first goal for the Tommies when he tipped Bryan Main’s wrist shot from the blue line in front of the net. Steve Sanza picked up the other assist on the goal.
The Tommies, as has been the case a lot this season, were out shot in the first period, where U de M had 21 shots compared to STU’s 12.
The Tommies had a couple of good chances early in the second to tie the game. First, Jonathan Bonneau was denied on a partial breakaway, but he couldn’t muster a lot on his shot. Then, Yuri Cheremetiev missed glove side on U de M goalie Alexandre Marion, who just got his shoulder on the puck to nudge it over the crossbar.
Cheremetiev slid hard into the end boards on the play, where he stayed down for a minute. Earlier in the game, Sanza also left the game. But both players returned.
The Tommies have dealt with injuries, suspensions and eligibility issues all season, but Ryan decided to reward those players Friday night by involving them in the festivities.
“I had Matt Eagles on the bench today, but he couldn’t play. Randy Cameron is up doing music with John McDonald. They’re both injured; they can’t play,” he said.
Sebastian Bernier tied the game at the 5:13 mark with the easiest of goals. On the powerplay, Marion tried to clear the puck, but he slid it straight to Bernier who buried the puck into the open net for the unassisted goal.
As he has been more often than not for the Tommies, Lavigne was in prime form on this special night. After a busy first period, Lavigne didn’t have quite as much to do in the second, but he made some memorable saves.
First, he denied U de M right on the doorstep after a pass through the crease. He then covered up the puck as U de M ferociously pounded for the loose puck. Then, he made a sprawling save in his crease and kept out the rebound as U de M looked to restore their lead on the powerplay.
“Lavigne’s been great. He’s a good goalie. We’ll miss him if he moves on,” Ryan said.
Unfortunately for Lavigne though, U de M broke through with only a minute left in the second. A monster slap shot from Keven Charland beat Lavigne shortside to restore U de M’s lead.
The Tommies didn’t rest on their laurels though and came out and equalized at the 2:00 mark of the third. Cheremetiev tucked home the puck after a great pass across the crease by Bonneau, with Bernier picking up his second point of the night on the powerplay goal.
U de M piled on the pressure after the Tommies’ equalizer. Eric Faille came closest as he skated down the left wing, chipped the puck over a defenseman’s leg, and slapped his shot inches wide of Lavigne’s net.
Andrew Andricopoulos had the Tommies best chance to win the game, but after receiving the pass from Bonneau, the puck rolled on him and he too missed the net by inches.
The game headed into overtime where the action picked up to a frenetic pace. Less than one minute in, Ouellet missed a golden opportunity to win the game for U de M as he couldn’t bury the puck with Lavigne down.
Then the Tommies came with the onslaught; Alex Labonte was first denied by Marion as he fell while shooting. Andricopoulos was then stuffed on his backhander attempt after skating through the defense. Bonneau then saw his slap shot saved, with Sanza then barging through the crease and taking the net off on his own goal-scoring opportunity.
But it all came crashing down for the Tommies as Faille silenced the roaring crowd at 8:38 of overtime when he put the puck under Lavigne’s right pad after a nice pass from Mathieu Bolduc. The goal came against the run of play, as U de M was barely hanging on amid the Tommies pressure.
Despite being on the end of another one-goal loss, Ryan was content with how the night unfolded, saying it’s another stepping stone to improving the team.
Ryan also praised the ceremony and the proclaimed the night an overall success.
“There was a great mix of administrative and political figures…I thought it was kind of cool that there was a good mix of everything and I think everybody had fun and it was a tight hockey game.”
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