The Ottawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens are doing the damnedest to support Bob McCown's argument that CIS hockey is the best hockey to be found outside the NHL.
By the margin of the couple inches that made the difference between the Ravens' Jared Cipparone tying the game instead of hitting the goalpost behind goalie Riley Whitlock with 8:50 left last night, the host Gee-Gees pulled out a 4-2 win on home ice in the rivalry game. It was hard-fought ll the way, with the Gee-Gees winning despite missing two of their top scorers (Dan McDonald and Nick Vernelli) and being on the penalty kill for almost eight minutes in the third period.
When Keven Gagné got the empty-netter with 20 seconds left, it meant for the first time in 185 minutes of hockey this season, the teams were playing with the outcome decided. When you couple that with McCown's assertion in his new book, McCown Law's: The 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments, that CIS teams have more experienced players with talent comparable to major junior, that should illustrate how riveting these Ravens-Gee-Gees games have been so far this season, especially because there's so much on the line in each game.
Even though it's exam week, there was a great collegiate hockey atmosphere, with the Gee-Gees' Jockey Club student section making noise all night. Carleton left-wing Francis Walker was getting razzed all night, but he ended up scoring both Ravens goals. This was Ottawa's game, though, as the Gee-Gees went up 2-0 after two on a power-play goal from Matt McMahon on a screened shot one minute into the second, followed by a shortie from Paul Gauthier late in the period. After Walker's first, Rob Jarvis knocked in a rebound for the eventual winner 35 seconds into the third. Jarvis also had a big clear the helped the Gee-Gees milk about 40 seconds off the clock in the final two minutes.
This game really illustrated how the truncated 28-game schedule in the OUA (not 26, thanks Tyler) means no one can take a night off. Had they lost, the Gee-Gees (9-8-0) would be entering the New Year out of a playoff spot, instead of in fifth spot. Had the Ravens (7-9-1) won, they would be in the final playoff position, instead of being eighth in a conference where five teams are separated by all of three points.
A lot has to fall right, but can you imagine if these teams end up in the playoffs against each other?
Watching last night, McCown's argument (also remarked upon over at The CIS Blog) made perfect sense. The Bobcat has a lot of influence, and his book has all the ingredients o sell very well. Not to go all Long Tail on everyone, but here's hoping it encourages people to check out a CIS game in the New Year or go more frequently. Here in Ottawa, last night was encouraging to say the least.