Hockey Hawks take two in a row

The Golden Hawks men’s hockey team had a different challenge last weekend, taking on two weak opponents. This meant they had to stay sharp, disciplined and get up to face teams they should beat.

Indeed, on Friday they faced cellar-dwellers Royal Military College (RMC) and crushed them 9-2; while on Saturday they took on the slightly more difficult Queen’s Gaels — a squad languishing in seventh place in the mediocre Ontario University Athletics (OUA) east division — squeaking by with a 2-1 victory.

Rookie Thomas Middup paced all scorers with four points on Friday night, while Hawks’ captain Jean-Michel Rizk bagged a hat-trick, propelling Laurier to the blow-out win.

The next evening, however, proved a lot tougher.

The concern for Laurier was that after the easy win versus RMC they would enter this game lacking intensity, and that’s what happened.

Three minutes into the game, with Laurier defenceman Kyle Van De Bospoort in the box, Brock Ouellet converted on a two-on-one, giving the Gaels the early lead.

Eventually the Hawks settled into their rhythm and began to dominate puck possession. In the last minute of the first period on a Laurier power play, Ryan Bernardi unleashed a blast from the point that Queen’s net-minder Steele De Fazio could not handle. The rebound fell to rookie Kain Allicock, who shoveled it in to tie the game up.

“I actually thought our first period we played pretty well,” said Laurier head coach Greg Puhalski. “We scored a late goal and it was probably our best period of the game.”

The rest of the game almost went as Queen’s had hoped. Laurier’s forwards unsuccessfully attempted to carry the puck through the clogged neutral zone while the Gaels had numerous opportunities off turnovers. Hawks’ goaltender
Ryan Daniels was sharp, holding off the visitors’ counter-attacks.

“It was nice to hold the fort down there,” Daniels said. “It was nice to give our team a chance to score and get back in the game.”

With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Laurier sophomore Zach Shepley wired a routine dump-in along the boards into the Queen’s zone. Except instead of ringing all the way around, the puck took a funny bounce off the half-boards, headed straight to the Gaels net and beat De Fazio.

“You know what they say: you have to be good to be lucky,” said Puhalski. “It was nice to see Zach Shepley get a good bounce because he was our best player tonight.”

“We had a successful weekend,” added Daniels. “You can call a goal a fluke, but coach was telling us to get pucks in deep all night. That’s what [Shepley did] and it paid dividends.”

The goal was all Laurier needed as they eked out their seventh win of the year, putting them in fifth place in a tight OUA west division.