Laurier men’s hockey upsets Lakehead

Solid defensive play and a 40-save performance by Laurier net-minder Jeff MacDougald gave the men’s hockey Hawks a confidence boosting 4-2 victory Friday evening over the visiting number eight nationally ranked Lakehead Thunderwolves.

The odds seemed heavily stacked in favour of Lakehead who are loaded with talent up and down their line-up. From former Calgary Flames fourth round pick Kriss Hogg, to former 37 goal-scorer with the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders Ryan McDonald; and from Matt Caria who has an unbelievable 20 points in only 11 games this year, to Scott Dobben, a former Ottawa Senators fourth round draft pick (just to name a few), this Lakehead team is on paper an absolutely tremendous force.

If the odds of shutting down this talented offense were small, the Hawks – who have been underwhelming in the second half of the season – were missing their heart and soul in Captain Jean-Michel Rizk who was relegated to watching from the stands. As they were also missing sniper Clinton Pettapiece, defenseman Phil Magistrale was recruited to play forward along with Jordan Bonneville (who has been back and forth between forward and defence this whole season, but was originally recruited as a defenceman).

Nevertheless the undermanned and unfavoured Hawks showed resilience, discipline, and determination in pulling off the win while holding the high-powered Wolves to only two goals and a 0-for-4 on the power play.

Rookie Mike Gauthier paced the Hawks with a goal and an assist, while nine different Laurier players had at least one point on the night. Golden Hawk leading scorer Paul Bradley brought his season total to 42 points with his 20th goal of the campaign.

Another rookie, speedster Jason Bergeron – who seems to have returned to form after suffering a concussion earlier in the season – scored the winner 6:44 into the third period, redirecting a nice feed from Jordan Bonneville past Lakehead goaltender Kyle Moir.

The game ended with the score of 4-2 after Bradley added his late marker with just over a minute left in the game. Lakehead outshot Laurier 42-22, but many of those shots were to the outside as the Hawks played a great game defensively.

With Lakehead heading into St. Catherine’s on Saturday night to face the lowly Brock Badgers – a team already eliminated from the playoffs – Saturday’s match-up against the Western Mustangs in London is all but redundant as the Hawks could only move up with a win in their game, and a Lakehead loss.

Therefore the Hawks seem poised to meet the young, and scrappy Guelph Gryphons in the first round of the playoffs (the Gryphons have already clinched fifth place in the conference). Should the unlikely scenario described above ensue, however, Laurier will face York in the opening playoff round.

Look for an opening round playoff preview in the Cord Sports blog over the next few days.

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