Hawks’ season ends with a roar
It’s been a roller coaster season for the Wilfrid Laurier men’s hockey team, and on Saturday it came to an end in the exact same fashion.
In a tightly contested affair between the eighth-seeded Golden Hawks and the number one seeded Western Mustangs, the Hawks fell 2-1 in a controversial ending.
“I think we deserved a better fate,” said Hawks captain Kyle Van De Bospoort. “A couple calls one way or the other way, a post here a post there and we could have been celebrating after that one.”
The call that may have swayed the game occurred in the third period. Thomas Middup had just scooped up a puck in front of the Western net, and backhanded it upstairs to give Laurier a 1-0 lead.
With momentum on their side, the Hawks were rolling. But less than 20 seconds later, Western’s Kevin Baker carried a puck into the Laurier zone that appeared to be offside. However the offside was waved off, and Baker managed to sneak one past a surprised Ryan Daniels.
Head coach Greg Puhalski voiced his displeasure with the call (to put it lightly), resulting in an ejection. The “chief” would eventually exit the ice surface, but not before leaving the referees some souvenirs on the ice, in the form of hockey sticks and an expensive suit jacket.
The game would eventually continue and the Hawks would battle hard, generating a number of opportunities to take the lead. However with two minutes remaining in the period, the Ontario University Athletics’ leading scorer Keaton Turkiewicz would receive a pass out of the corner and slip one by Daniels for the eventual game winner.
“I was proud of our team; I mean honestly it’s a pretty bitter feeling right now. It’s a real tough way to lose,” said Daniels following the game. “They’re the number three rated team in Canada, but we took them down to the last three minutes of the game both times. It’s disappointing obviously but I think people expected it to be a lot worse of a deficit then it was.”
Daniels has been stellar in net all season, but perhaps had his best performance yet, stopping 53 of 55 shots in the loss.
The Hawks came out and played a very physical game following a 4-2 loss the previous night in London. After falling behind 3-0 in the first period of that game, the Hawks got out to a much better start; generating good chances and delivering big hits. Led by the likes of Mitchell Good, De Bospoort and Zack Shepley the Hawks played a strong game in their own end.
Even when they ran into trouble in the penalty department the team stood strong, and finished the night six-for-six on the penalty kill.
“They are a good team, they have a lot of speed and a lot of skill and the way we’re gooing to beat teams today or in the future is by grinding down,” commented De Bospoort.
Daniels gave his defence credit for the toughness they displayed not only tonight, but all season long.
“Western’s pretty good at getting traffic in front, but I’m pretty proud of our defence. Kyle Van De Bospoorts playing with a sprained hand, he can hardly shoot the puck. Zack Shepley’s had a bad foot all year. Those guys probably log 35 minutes a night. We’ve asked a lot of them all season. The other guys; [Chad] Lowry, [Brook] Albion, [Trevor] Atkinson and [Frank] Riddle; they’re second year guys and we asked a lot of them all season too with having two of our older players quit. I’m really proud of how they played and I think my statistics are a pretty good representation of their strong play this year.”
De Bospoort acknowledged that it had been a tumultuous season for the Hawks given the injuries and departures of players. However the entire squad is eligible to return next season, meaning the future is bright for Laurier Men’s Hockey.
“It sucks right now, but you have to use those bad feelings as motivation to workout in the off-season, and like I said, we have the exact same team coming back here. A year older, a year smarter, a year stronger.”