Hawks look to ground high-flying Gryphons

With the UOIT Ridgebacks out of the way, the Golden Hawks men’s hockey team now move on to face the University of Guelph Gryphons in round two of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs.

In round one, Guelph eliminated Brock in three games, scoring a remarkable 14 goals in that period of time. Here is a preview of the series that is sure to be a thriller from start to finish.

It was not many years ago that the Gryphons were languishing in mediocrity, and a visit from them to the Waterloo RecreationComplex seemed like a laughing matter; not any longer. Head coach Shawn Camp and company have done a remarkable job in recruiting the University of Guelph into a force to be reckoned with.

Last year and this year especially, when the Gryphs brought in a brace of highly talented guys to make an immediate impact, Guelph began to be seen as a threat, and those men continue to be among the best in the OUA.

The most important addition, and the main Gryphon to watch for in this series, is centre Thomas Kiriakou. Dangerous every time he touches the ice, the Richmond Hill native finished off his four season OHL career with the Ottawa 67’s with 65 points in 62 games in his final season. Kiriakou has rode that momentum right into university play, leading Guelph in scoring each of the past two years utilizing his good size, smooth skating, and superb puck abilities to great effect.

Joining Kiriakou among Guelph’s sophomore studs are defencemen Tim Priamo and Nathan Martine. Both have great size and skating ability, and perhaps even more importantly, they have loads of chemistry. Though this is their second year on the Gryphons, it is their fourth straight as a defence pairing as they played together as partners for two years previously on the OHL’s Guelph Storm before attending university. Priamo is the more offensively gifted of the two, while Martine is purely a bruising, physical force utilizing his 6-foot-2 and 221 pound frame to great effect.

As well, Kiriakou and Priamo both represented Canada with Laurier Captain Jean-Michel Rizk in January and February’s Winter Universiade in Turkey.

As was mentioned earlier, the Gryphons have no trouble finding offence, and their forward corps is a deep as any in the OUA Western Conference. Thunder Bay-native Justin Gvora scored a hat-trick, and finished the night with five points in game three, while former London Knight and Oshawa General, and current Guelph captain Kris Belan managed four points that evening, and has been as consistent during the past three years as anyone on the Gryphons.

Simply put, the Golden Hawks defenders and goaltender Ryan Daniels will have their hands full with this potent Guelph attack.

In net the Gryphons send out rookie Andrew Loverock with his 212 OHL appearances with the Mississauga/Niagara Ice Dogs and Sudbury Wolves. The Elmvale, Ontario native has been solid for Guelph, especially in their red hot second half of the season, and finished the year with a strong .904 save percentage in 16 starts. With his big 6-foot-4 and 195-pound frame, Loverock takes up a lot of the net and is extremely talented, meaning there will be no easy goals for the Hawks this up-coming series.

Game one of the series goes Thursday night at the Waterloo Recreation Complex with a 7:30 puck drop, while game two will be played on Saturday night in Guelph. Game three will be back in Waterloo on Sunday, if necessary.

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