Lions crowned Queen’s Cup champions with victory over Gaels

Lions hockey champions
Lions hockey champions

The York University Lions men’s hockey team won its first Queen’s Cup championship in 13 years on Saturday night with a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Queen’s University Gaels at Canlan Ice Sports.

The contest started out slow with an uneventful first period, but the action picked up considerably once the second period began and the game quickly became a classic.

A back-and-forth affair culminated at 15:26 of the third period when Steven Janes netted the game winner for the Lions after firing home a juicy rebound given up by Queen’s goaltender Kevin Bailie. Janes was named the Porter Airlines player of the game after also recording an assist.

After a scoreless first period, the floodgates opened in the second. It was Queen’s that got on the board first just under seven minutes into the frame when Slater Doggett put the puck past York goaltender Mack Shields for a 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later the Gaels were at it again, this time with Eric Margo scoring to put the Gaels up by two. The goal came just moments after Bryce Milson had a glorious chance at the equalizer but was denied.

The Lions would not be held off the scoreboard for long, however, and within five minutes the game was tied. Reid Jackman cut the deficit to one at 10:36, and just over two minutes later Derek Sheppard found the back of the net to make it 2-2, where the score remained heading into the final frame.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to take their first lead of the game. Just 23 seconds into the third, Daniel Nikandrov collected another big rebound by Bailie and redirected the puck into a gaping net for a 3-2 lead.

Once again the advantage was short-lived as Doggett scored his second of the game, evading a defender and firing a hard shot past Shields to make it 3-3 at 3:45.

Both teams had their chances in the third until Janes provided the heroics minutes before the final whistle. Shields was forced to make one tremendous save that kept his team ahead until time wound down. He finished the game with 16 saves on the 19 shots he faced.

Bailie, meanwhile, was significantly busier at the other end of the ice, facing 34 shots and making 30 saves. For Queen’s, the silver-medal result was their best finish in 36 years, since last winning the championship in 1981.

Both teams had already qualified for the U SPORTS championships prior to Saturday’s game and will head to Fredericton next week, where the national tournament will begin on Thursday afternoon at the University of New Brunswick.