Hawks struggle for offence


Laurier's men's hockey team dropped both of their games over the weekend, losing 3-1 to Queen's and 3-1 to Ryerson.
Laurier’s men’s hockey team dropped both of their games over the weekend, losing 3-1 to Queen’s and 3-1 to Ryerson.

A year ago, the Wilfrid Laurier men’s hockey team pulled off an incredible second-half record of 9-3 to make it to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs.

It began Jan. 3, 2013 with a win against the Waterloo Warriors and continued until the end of the season, including a strong 2-0 win over the first-place Western Mustangs.

But the same can’t be said about the beginning of the second half of this season, as the Hawks have struggled to find their offence.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re not able to put the puck in the net to some degree, you’re going to have trouble winning,” head coach Greg Puhalski said.

To start off the second half of their season, the Hawks played host to the Ryerson Rams and Queen’s Gaels this past weekend.

Friday against the Rams, the Hawks couldn’t find their offence, dropping a 3-1 decision.

The next night, Laurier seemed to improve on parts of their system. They led the Gaels early in the first period and first-year goaltender Vinny Merante stood tall in net, covering any rebounds he saw.

However, the effort was still not enough as the Gaels took a 3-1 victory.

“I thought we played very well,” third-year Joe Vanni said following Saturday’s game.

“We worked hard, but when you give up 50 shots a game it’s going to happen that they score more than we do.”

Laurier’s offensive woes have been an issue throughout the season, garnering only five wins in 15 games. Laurier sits in tenth and last place in the OUA West division and will need to climb to at least eighth to make the playoffs.

The Hawks currently sit five points behind the Guelph Gryphons, who hold that eighth-place position in the OUA West.

“We need to have some guys find their offensive game and get some dirty goals and rebound goals,” Puhalski said. “We’re looking to be a little too much of a pretty team; we need to be more of a grinding team.”

“We played better [against Queen’s] than we did against Ryerson,” Puhalski continued.

“That being said, [it’s] still not good enough. Queen’s is a pretty good hockey club and they played well together … There were some positives, but we need to be much better if we’re going to garner some wins here.”

Puhalski emphasized that the Hawks need to find offence wherever they can.

Against Queen’s, Laurier gave up 53 shots and couldn’t take advantage of two early power plays. Against Ryerson, the Hawks allowed only 26 shots, but could only muster one goal off of 32 of their own shots.

With 13 games left in the season, emphasis will be on sticking to the system and finding that missing offence.

“I think myself as much as my teammates we need to just keep working hard and playing within the system and pay attention to the fine details and the wins will start coming towards us,” Vanni said.

The Hawks play their last home game in a five-game home stretch against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Thursday Jan. 9 before heading to London to take on the Mustangs on Jan. 10.

Game time on Thursday is 7:30 p.m.

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