Jenkins and Williams both named to OUA All-Star teams

Third-year defencemen Kyle Jenkins and rookie Goaltender Matt Williams were both honoured by the OUA this past weekend, as the league announced their post-season award winners and divisional All-Star teams.

After another stellar year in the purple and gold, defenceman Kyle Jenkins was recognized by the OUA and named to the OUA West Division’s second All-Star team for the second straight year.

Rookie goaltender Matt Williams, who was signed by Coach Greg Puhalski in the offseason and was expected to split play time with sophomore goalie Tyler Fassl, put together a great season in his first year in the OUA and was named to the OUA West Division All-Rookie team.

The awards for both Jenkins and Williams this year marks the first time that the Golden Hawks men’s hockey program has had two all-stars since 2013 when goaltender Ryan Daniels won the OUA MVP award, defenceman Derek Holden was named to the All-Rookie team, and Coach Greg Puhalski won Coach of the Year, in what was one of the best seasons the program has ever witnessed

In all three of his years with the team, Kyle Jenkins has continuously improved.

The 6’1 defenceman from Brampton played a pivotal role for the Hawks this season, especially its second half.

As he so often does, Jenkins showcased his offensive talent as a defenceman this year and recorded 19 points, which was good for third on the team.

Jenkins also led the Hawks once again in assists with 16 in the season, after having led the team with 13 assists last season.

The former Peterborough Pete had seven multi-point games throughout the season and led the Golden Hawks with three points in the playoffs. He will be relied upon heavily come next year most importantly for his leadership.

On the other hand, rookie goaltender Matt Williams was able to put a solid season together, seizing the top goalie spot with standout performances this year.

Williams also got the nod and played in all three of Laurier’s playoff games.

Williams was able to finish with a save percentage of 0.922, which was good for sixth in the entire OUA.

The rookie was at his best in meaningful games down the stretch with wins against Western and Ryerson and will look to gain more reps as the starting goaltender next year.

“Kyle had a very strong finish to the season and Matt in some tough games kept us in it. Those two were great players throughout the season and good character people as well,” Coach Puhalski said of his All-Stars.

Coach Puhalski and the team can at least head into the offseason with some optimism knowing that they will have both of their All-Stars at their disposal next year.

In what was a rollercoaster 2019-2020 season for the Golden Hawks, which saw numerous high points and a large list of accomplishments, they finished with yet another disappointing playoff result.

This past season for the Golden Hawks was really a tale of two halves, as they had a tumultuous 2019 that most people did not believe they would be able to recover from.

In an exciting season of highs and lows, Laurier started the campaign on a five-game losing streak, losing four out of those five games consecutively on home ice.

At the mid-way mark of the season, through 14 games, the Golden Hawks had a record of 3-9-2 after dropping the first game of a back-to-back against Lakehead, suffering their fourth straight loss and dropping Puhalski and his players to last place in the West division.

The second game of the back-to-back was one to remember, however,  as this is where the team took a drastic turn for the better.

The night following that loss, Laurier beat Lakehead 6-3 on the strength of two Anthony Conti goals and turned their season right around.

Laurier went on to win three consecutive games to head into the Christmas break and the team stayed hot in the new year.

The three wins in November carried over to be a part of a seven-game point streak for the Golden Hawks, where they won six out of the seven games, only losing in overtime to nationally ranked Ryerson.

The trend continued as the Golden Hawks had found the chemistry that they were looking for all season.

A much-improved offense that was one of the best in the league down the stretch, combined with clutch goaltending performances by both Fassl and Williams, had the Laurier heading into the playoffs winning four out of their last five and earning a USPORTS national ranking for the first time in a decade, ranked as high as seventh in the country.

“We played so much better as a team, found an identity and started getting some results,” Coach Puhalski said.

“It was great to see the program recognized by USPORTS and ranked nationally,” he added.

Although Coach Puhalski was happy with the national ranking he was not satisfied with the season overall and classified it as a disappointment as the Golden Hawks were defeated in the first round by the Guelph Gyphons.

“The series was tough fought, and I think their power-play was effective, while ours was ineffective. I wouldn’t classify the season as a success, we set out to win and we couldn’t get it done,” Coach Puhalski said about the season as a whole.

It is Laurier’s fourth consecutive season losing in the first round of the playoffs, as they have yet to advance past the first round since the 2010-2011 season, Coach Puhalski’s first year with the team.

The Gryphons went on to defeat both Brock and Western before winning the Queen’s Cup against Ottawa this past weekend.

Being one of the best teams in the country, the Gryphons will also look to win a medal at nationals over this upcoming weekend.

Laurier and Coach Puhalski will now focus their attention to a busy offseason with many players to replace.

Captain Will Cook, top forwards Anthony Sorrentino, Anthony Conti and Danny Hanlon as well as key defencemen Jacob Hetherington are all graduating this year among others, which will lead to a busy offseason for the Hawks staff.

“Its going to be very busy over the next few months with scouting and recruiting. We will be looking all over Canada trying to find good character guys who can make an impact for us” Coach Puhalski stated.

While Laurier was once again unable to win in the post-season this year, there is still room for optimism, the eight recruits brought in this past year took a big step forward in 2020.

Mcjanet, Gottschalk and Herrfort to name a few, were able to generate some offense and played much better as a team near the end of the season.

The duo of Tyler Fassl and now, All-Rookie Matt Williams should also stay in tact for the Golden Hawks.

With the offseason here, Laurier must add the right pieces to their team this summer in order to continue climbing the ranks in the OUA and in USPORTS as they did this year, for the first time in a decade!

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