End of the losing streak
Hawks snap three-game slide with win over Varsity Blues
Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team finally had a bit of luck on Sunday night.
They picked up their first win in four games against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, defeating them 3-1. They now improve to 2-3 as they head into a road trip this weekend. The Hawks were on the wrong side of their three previous games against Guelph, Windsor and Ryerson losing by scores of 4-1, 5-2 and 5-3 respectively.
Head coach Greg Puhalski said he did not feel like the team played perfectly, but was adamant they deserved a win in at least one of those games.
“For us, it was good to get a win. Our past three, even though we have lost, I think the team felt that they deserved a little better fate than three losses. It’s good to get back on the winning side of things,” he said.
Captain Tyler Stothers, who had a goal and an assist in the win against U of T, saw a little extra fire in the team on Sunday.
“I think the guys came out with a little bit more jump just because we wanted to get back into the win column after three losses where we thought we had to come away with at least one win,” he said.
Puhalski explained he felt as though the team’s problems tend to come from their inability to keep moving when there are tense times on the ice.
“Sometimes we get a little anxious and start thinking too much and we stop moving our feet. If you stop moving your feet in sports, you’re in trouble,” he said.
Freshman goaltender Chris Festarini was pivotal in the win on Sunday, turning away 35 of 36 shots in the win. According to Puhalski, it was a much needed breakout game from him.
“He’s had a lot of ups and downs with us. Last night he had a great game for us — I think his best night in a Laurier uniform,” he said. “We just want him to continue to play at a high level and a consistent level. We think he will be a real good player for a long time here,” he said.
Festarini was a summer addition to the hockey club. He began the year by splitting time with fellow goalie, Vinny Merante and is now making his case for a permanent starting job.
“He’s been a welcome addition, he communicates well and he really battles for his ice time. He does not want to give the net up and his work ethic is very evident of that,” said Stothers.
It’s the attitude of his goaltender that Stothers thinks makes for his success on and off the ice.
“He has a certain kind of swagger about him and has a lot of confidence which is nice. When you are playing in front of a guy you want to know that he is going to bail you out when you need him to,” he said.
Looking forward, the Hawks will head to Nipissing and Laurentian for two road games that Stothers believes will give an opportunity to turn the season in a positive direction this year.
“These next couple of games are very winnable games. Hopefully we can put together a little stretch here and then we are back at .500 and hopefully over .500 at the end of this weekend,” he said.
“This is part of what I think will be, and what I hope will be, a turning point in our season and our overall record really.”
Puhalksi said he is glad his team has something positive to focus on, instead of dwelling on their losing streak.
“If you play well and you don’t get the win, especially with young guys, you get down on yourself. You have to see some results and get some confidence in what you are doing,” he said.
The team now moves out of the basement of the Ontario University Athletics, climbing above the Blues for second last spot.
The Hawks hit the ice next on the on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gardens in North Bay to take on Nipissing.