Nearly 140 years after Lennox Irving scored to lead Queen’s University over Royal Military College (RMC) 1-0 in the first game of hockey’s oldest rivalry between the two Kingston, Ont., schools – set to renew on Thursday – current fifth-year forward Alex Robert added another game-winning goal to the Gaels’ tally in dramatic fashion.
Both teams looking to go ‘pedal to the metal’ Thursday in 138-year-old rivalry
Rory Sumner · CBC Sports
· Posted: Feb 07, 2024 4:00 AM EST | Last Updated: 11 hours ago
Queen’s University men’s hockey player Alex Robert, second from left, will be competing in his final Carr-Harris Challenge Cup against Royal Military College on Thursday after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime, pictured above, during last year’s rivalry game in February. (James Paddle Grant/Queen’s University/File)Nearly 140 years after Lennox Irving scored to lead Queen’s University over Royal Military College (RMC) 1-0 in the first game of hockey’s oldest rivalry between the two Kingston, Ont., schools, set to renew on Thursday, current fifth-year forward Alex Robert added another game-winning goal to the Gaels’ tally in dramatic fashion.
Last February in the 35th edition of the Carr-Harris Challenge Cup — initiated in 1986 by the International Hockey Hall of Fame to celebrate the rivalry — the Ottawa native Robert capitalized on the chaos in front of the net in overtime to lead the Gaels to a 2-1 win, keeping Queen’s playoff hopes alive.
M🏒: GOAL!!🚨 GAELS WIN! Alex Robert scores to win the 35th Carr-Harris Cup!
QUE: 2#CarrHarrisCup | #ChaGheill pic.twitter.com/GafmZ8BX52
—@queensgaelsWhile there’s no official spectator count for 1886’s game on the Kingston harbour ice, it would be safe to assume that the cheering Gaels’ portion of the 3,800 packed into the Leon’s Centre to witness Robert’s goal outnumbered the 19th century crowd handily.
“Scoring a goal in front of that many people… I could lie to myself, but it’s definitely the biggest moment I’ve had [in my hockey career],” said Robert, who played two seasons with the North Bay Battalion in the OHL and four seasons in the CCHL before coming to Queen’s in 2020.
“Once you’re at our level [in U Sports], you have so many players where every game might be the last meaningful hockey game [they play], and being able to score a goal in front of everyone like that, in hockey’s oldest rivalry, it definitely was surreal.”
RMC head coach Richard Lim will be participating in his 12th Carr-Harris Challenge Cup on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, which will stream live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
WATCH | Queen’s Gaels hockey star Alex Robert shares why the Carr-Harris Cup is unlike any other game:
Queen’s Gaels hockey star Alex Robert shares why the Carr-Harris Cup is unlike any other gameThe Carr-Harris Cup is hockey’s oldest rivalry. It is between Queen’s University and the Royal Military College, a single game with history and importance.
It will be the seventh game behind the Paladins bench for Lim after suiting up as a forward in five of them between 2007 and 2011, winning the Mary Carr-Harris Most Valuable Player Award as his team’s top player in 2008.
It’s Carr-Harris week!
Just three more days until the Paladins and Gaels clash at the Leon’s Centre!
Secure your seats today!
Our thanks to the RMC Alumni Association for their generous support of this event! pic.twitter.com/zf2Wit2ZYi
—@RMCPaladinsNo matter how many of these games he’s been a part of though, the intensity at the start is always jarring.
“The first five minutes is completely different [than a usual game]; it’s like it’s the last five minutes of Game 7 [of the NHL playoffs] with the pace and physicality,” said Lim. “We’ll probably get through eight line changes in the first five minutes just because guys are pedal to the metal…
“It’s unbelievable hockey, and is pretty well similar to the other three times you play Queen’s per year.”
The overall results in the Carr-Harris Cup rivalry have been one-sided in Queen’s favour, with the Gaels holding a 22-11-2 all-time record. They’ve also taken 25 of 28 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) contests between the two teams in Lim’s tenure since 2015, despite the Calgary native improving the Paladins’ hockey program after taking over following a winless 2014-15 season.
Familiar foesRobert got acquainted with the rivalry very quickly in his first season in 2021-22, with eight of his team’s 19 conference games being against the Paladins with a more streamlined schedule coming out of the lost 2020-21 season to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Queen’s (17-8-1) has already secured a playoff spot this season, led by forward Dalton Duhart’s 41 points in 26 games, which is good for fourth in the nation.
While the do-or-die nature of last year’s game – in which Queen’s subsequently fell two points short of a playoff spot – is off the table, the Gaels this season are trying to lock up home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff series later this month.
For the 24-year-old Robert – who’s having his best season with 20 points in 23 games -– bringing Queen’s head-to-head record against RMC to 15-0-0 in his time with the team would be a perfect cap on his last U Sports season before the playoff trek.
“It’s a rivalry that we hate to lose in,” Robert said. “In my time here, we haven’t lost to RMC, and I really plan to keep it that way… We’re still playing for our ranking… in the playoffs so it’s definitely still a massive game for us. As much as we’re not playing for our [playoff] livelihood, we’re definitely playing for our pride.”
The game won’t have the playoff implications for the Paladins (6-18-2) it did in the 2020 game when they played in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, Lim’s 2-2-2 record in the year-end rivalry game, with wins in 2017 and 2019, shows the team’s ability to gel as the season goes along.
PALADINS WIN THE CARR-HARRIS CUP!!!@RMCMensHockey: 5@queensgaels: 1 pic.twitter.com/7ohDZrifTU
—@RMCPaladinsAlong with its other late-season rivalry game against the Army Black Knights from the United States Military Academy, Lim appreciates the opportunity to have landmark games so close to the end of the season with the transitory nature of U Sports’ rosters.
“For both teams, we know who we are, and guys have settled into their roles,” said Lim, whose team is led by fourth-year captain Christopher Paquette and sophomore Austin Saint, with the two forwards combining for 35 of the Paladins’ 71 goals this season. “Just the team structure for both teams, we’re comfortable with it and we’re just tweaking it at this point…
“I know in talking with [Queen’s head coach] Brett [Gibson] in the past when we made the playoffs… it was a perfect warm-up as to the intensity that is brought every single playoff game, having the crowd there. It is a playoff-type game without the playoff ramifications.”
Around the U Sports world The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s curling team won its fourth straight OUA title, and the women’s Laurentian Vogageurs earned its first conference championship since 2017 on Sunday in Guelph, Ont. Next up for both teams will be the U Sports championships in Fredericton from March 12-16, where Laurier will be looking for its third-straight title. CHAMPIONS 🥌@WLUAthletics take home the men’s title at the 2024 #OUA Curling Championships! 🏆#WeAreONE #BannerSeason pic.twitter.com/WGl1dq3ooX
—@OUAsport The Sherbrooke men’s volleyball team dispatched Montreal 3-2 and 3-1 on Friday and Sunday, respectively, to improve to 13-0 on the season, and need to win two games this weekend against UNB and its final game of the season on Feb. 17 against Laval to put a bow on a perfect season.