Golden Hawks hit speed bump on the road to the playoffs

Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

 

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team was in Guelph on Thursday night to play in their second consecutive Frosty Mug game against the Guelph Gryphons.

Laurier fell to the Gryphons 2-1 in last year’s contest, and the Golden Hawk team was looking to spoil Guelph’s festivities as well as to extend their own three-game win streak.

Unfortunately, this outcome was not in the cards.

Seemingly fueled by the roaring Guelph crowd of 4,715 people, the Gryphons exploded from the gate and took command of a fast-paced and hard-hitting game.

Come the closing buzzer of the first period, the Gryphons were leading Laurier by a score of 3-0 and the home crowd was only growing louder.

Following the harsh opening frame, Hawks goalie Chris Festarini would get the hook after allowing three goals on 19 shots. Colin Furlong would take his place to start the second, in hopes of turning things around for the Laurier team.

The Laurier offensive seemed to perk up a bit in the second period, as the Golden Hawks outshot the Gryphons by a tally of 12-6 and pushed back against the powerful opponents. This being said, they couldn’t solve Gryphons goalie Andrew Masters and the second period would end with Guelph leading 4-0.

The Hawks then played the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday, Jan. 20. Although the game was a hard fought battle, with the Hawks coming back from an early deficit, Laurier ended up falling in a shootout.

Come the third, Laurier ran into the same troubles, and would eventually find themselves on the wrong end of the first shutout in Frosty Mug history.

Guelph would take the game by a score of 5-0, outshooting the Golden Hawks 29-26.

“We did not match or exceed Guelph’s intensity to start the game,” head coach, Greg Puhalski, said.

“We simply needed to be ready for a tough battle.”

In wake of the unsightly first period, the Golden Hawks still managed to outshoot the Gryphons 19-10.

Despite the shooting efforts on behalf of the Golden Hawks, three of Guelph’s five goals came on the man-advantage, as Laurier only successfully killed off one Gryphon power play.

The Hawks then played the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday, Jan. 20. Although the game was a hard fought battle, with the Hawks coming back from an early deficit, Laurier ended up falling in a shootout.

Laurier settles to a 6-8-3 record on the road, which contributes most of the losses in their 14-10-4 overall record.

Following this weekend, Laurier finds themselves in third place in the Western Conference, right behind York University.

With six games remaining in the regular season and playoffs on the horizon, the Hawks are looking to enter the post-season in a comfortable position.

“We need to play with more desperation in our game,” coach Puhalski said in regard to success in this final stretch.

“When we have played hungry, our game has been very good. That’s what we need to win in the playoffs.”

Laurier heads to London this Thursday to take on the Mustangs, before playing host to the Gryphons again on Saturday afternoon.

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