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Voyageurs still hunting for playoff spot

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Jan 28, 2014 - 2:10 PM |
With a playoff berth still not out of the question, the Laurentian Voyageurs continued to provide tough competition to some of the OUA elite, even if the end result was not victories. File photo.

With a playoff berth still not out of the question, the Laurentian Voyageurs continued to provide tough competition to some of the OUA elite, even if the end result was not victories. File photo.

With a playoff berth still not out of the question, the Laurentian Voyageurs continued to provide tough competition to some of the OUA elite, even if the end result was not victories.

Battling the McGill Redmen, ranked fifth in the country and leading the OUA East with a record of 18-5-1, the Voyageurs clawed their way back from a 3-0 deficit, making things interesting with a pair of late tallies before dropping a 6-5 decision on Friday night at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

Goals by Carl Gelinas, Neal Prokop and Marc-Olivier Vachon vaulted the visitors to a 3-0 lead before the contest was seven minutes old, with Laurentian apparently not willing to simply lay down and die.

Joel Senecal put LU on the board before the end of the first, but McGill responded just 32 seconds into the second frame as Max Le Sieur netted his 10th of the year.

Again, the Voyageurs battled back, with both Mathew Davis and Marc-Alain Begin beating Redmen netminder Jacob Gervais-Chouinard.

The visitors proved why they have garnered the attention of the CIS ranking committee, providing a cushion when needed, as Vachon and Gelinas each picked up their second markers of the game, giving McGill a 6-3 lead with seven minutes to play.

Cue the comeback for coach Craig Duncanson, with Richard Therrien and Dylan Fitze generating one final buzz in the crowd as the Redmen surrendered five goals or more for only the third time all year.

The momentum of fighting tooth and nail with a top-end opponent appeared to carry over to the next evening as Laurentian broke the ice facing the Concordia Stingers just six seconds in, with Fitze beating Antonio Mastropietro with the very first shot on net.

The visitors pulled even before the end of the frame when Olivier Hinse made good on the power play, deadlocking the contest at 1-1 at 17:10 of the first. Concordia would take the lead for the first time, midway through the second, with Hugo Vincent pulling the trigger, but Laurentian answered for the umpteenth time in two games.

Valley East native Jordan Carroll netted his eighth goal of the campaign, finding the back of the net with LU holding a man advantage. Unfortunately, that would be the end of the scoring for the blue and gold as the Stingers pulled away, with Nicholas Samoluk, Jessyco Bernard, Dany Potvin and Sean Blunden all finding their way on to the scoresheet for the visitors.

The game was one of the more chippy affairs seen this year, with fisticuffs erupting for the first time as Caleb Apperson (LU) and Dany Potvin squared off.

Apperson was ejected after being tagged as the instigator in the bout.

With a record of 5-18-0, the Voyageurs find themselves in ninth place, trailing the Nipissing Lakers by just two points. With the top eight in each division advancing to the post-season, hope remains for the LU side to work their way into the post-season in their first year back to OUA competition in a decade.

Coach Duncanson and company will enjoy a slightly quieter week, with only one game on the docket as the local lads pay a visit to the GTA on Thursday evening, battling the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks (6-14-3).

The team then prepares for a critical home game on Feb. 7, with Nipissing in town, followed by the Carleton Ravens some 24 hours later. Laurentian will close out the 2013-2014 regular season on the road, heading to the nation's capital for encounters with both Carleton and Ottawa on Feb. 14-15.

The bad news, from a Laurentian standpoint, is that Nipissing still has two games remaining against the Royal Military College Paladins, owners of far and away the worst record in the OUA at 1-18-3.

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