Banner year for Law’19’s hockey all-star
(April 12, 2017)
While completing first year law, Queen’s Gaels goaltender Kevin Bailie, Law’19, has been a dominant force in university hockey. He’s won medals in international and national competitions, was invited to challenge Canada’s World Junior team, and capped off 2016–17 winning the Jenkins Trophy as Queen’s top male athlete.
“To be associated with the most accomplished student-athletes of the last 90 years is something I’m very proud of,” he says. “I have to give a lot of credit to the unbelievable teammates who have played in front of me for the last four seasons.”
Bailie, a former Ontario Hockey League star goalie who played for four coaches now with the NHL, also has high praise for Queen’s coaches. “The coaching here is just as good, or better,” he says. “My Gaels coaches have been instrumental in my development as an athlete and I can’t thank them enough.”
With the April 5 varsity athletic awards banquet officially marking the end of the season, Bailie can finally exhale.
Balancing academics with varsity men’s hockey has made this past year the “most challenging” of his life.
But a true student-athlete, he’s excelled in both pursuits – Bailie earned bronze for Canada in Kazakhstan earlier this year at the 2017 Winter Universiade. With league-topping stats, he was widely considered the best goaltender in the OUA playoffs. In the post-season he pulled off a .969 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.10. Queen’s went to the national championship for the first time in 36 years.
All the while, he kept up with readings and assignments. Sometimes that meant carting textbooks halfway across the world.
Ever modest, Bailie says he’s thankful for the opportunity to compete at the highest level in Canadian interuniversity hockey while attending Queen’s Law. With one more year of eligibility, he’ll be back between the pipes next year. But for now, he’s just happy to be able to focus on exams.
The year has been a busy one. Two weeks ago, Bailie returned from the national championships, the U Sports Cup, in Fredericton, N.B. His Introduction to Lawyering Skills (ILS) moot was moved ahead nearly a week to accommodate. “Christa Bracci (Law’00), my ILS instructor, did an unbelievable job, and my moot partner too, agreeing to move it up,” he says. “That kind of support is invaluable.”
On their way to New Brunswick, a winter storm had closed highways, stranding the rest of the team in Quebec for two days. Bailie was already in Fredericton for a press conference. “My flight was the last one into Fredericton for 60 hours,” he says.
Though the tired Gaels fell 5-1 to host UNB in the quarterfinals, they came home with silver medals. That game capped off a historic season, in which the upstart team showed Queen’s is one of the best in the nation. “Queen’s hockey program has been around for 135 years and had one of the first men’s varsity teams in Canada,” he says. “This year, we broke our record for most wins in the regular season and then we qualified for nationals – only the second time that’s been done in school history.”
“We’re a hockey program now," head coach Brett Gibson said after the game. “We’ve always been a great school academically, but now we’re the best of both worlds. Why wouldn't you want to come to Queen's? You can get the best education and play for a program on a national stage.”
Perhaps none of Gibson’s players embodies this better than Bailie. Splitting time between Kingston Memorial Centre ice and the Macdonald Hall Learning Commons might be difficult, but he says the experience helped him grow as a student.
“This forced me to have extremely exceptional time management. It increased my threshold, my capacity to work.”
Sometimes his two commitments had to overlap. He talks about editing his factum before Game 1 against McGill. “I handed in my factum on McGill wifi – I had to ask a concessions employee for the password,” he says. “I proofread it in the stands 70 minutes before puck-drop.” He jokes that the team, already suiting up for warm-up, was worried he wasn’t going to be ready for the game.
The Gaels went on to beat their archrivals 2-1 in Montreal, with Bailie making 40 saves. He was named Queen’s Male Athlete of the Week.
The team won again two days later in Kingston to advance.
“That was a special moment,” he says. “We knew we had to go through McGill to win the OUA Eastern championship. One thing that was really cool was all the alumni and faculty support we started getting as we progressed through the playoffs.”
Before the game, the team was shown a 10-minute video of alumni wishing them good luck. “Guys that played for Queen’s in the ‘90s and the 2000s – that was really cool.”
One of Bailie’s other special moments was much further afield than Montreal. He represented Canada on the men’s team at the Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the second-largest gathering of athletes in the world, behind only the Olympics.
“It was a really, really cool experience,” he says. “It was a good competition in an interesting part of the world.
“There were 5,000 athletes; most of them will be future Olympians. We played in front of sold-out crowds in 15,000-seat arenas.
“In every game, except when we played Russia, we were the crowd favourite,” he says. “It was by far the highest quality hockey I’ve ever played.”
Back in Kingston, things are quieter now. With studying for exams occupying Bailie’s time, he says the balancing act has all been worth it.
“I think long-term this will be a very beneficial thing for me.”
By Jeremy Mutton