Men’s hockey climbs to .500

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

Despite playing the No. 8 Lakehead Thunderwolves, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s hockey team seemed like an entirely new team.

After an overtime loss Thursday to the Western Mustangs, the Hawks defeated the Lakehead 4-2 Saturday to improve to .500 on the season.

“Overall, we’ve been playing really well,” said first-year Ryan Lopes. “All lines were firing tonight and things are going good. Guys are blocking shots, guys were getting dirty tonight and it was a big win overall.”

After losing six of their first seven games of the season, the Hawks have won four of their last five, obtaining a least a point in all five.

“At the start, it was fresh, new guys,” Lopes said. “We weren’t molding right away and I guess a couple weeks ago we all clicked and since then we’ve just been flying together and it’s been working well. We just got to keep going.”

Head coach Greg Puhalski also complimented the team’s play, saying that the improvements have been a large factor to the outcomes.

“I think [Saturday], our best attribute was our intensity,” he said. “We really competed hard from the first drop of the puck through to the end of the game. For us, that’s just getting involved, giving a hit, taking a hit, and we did a good job of that.”

Both games featured the Hawks opening the scoring with Lopes finding the back of the net. Lopes now has a goal in three consecutive games. Goaltender Ryan Daniels continued to excel for Laurier, facing a combined 86 shots in the two games and only allowing six goals.

“It’s not really the amount of shots, it’s kind of the chances,” Daniels said. “When it comes to shots, it’s like a competition. I treat it as a game. For me, it’s kind of fun to frustrate the other team so if I can get them upset and chewing at one another, it gets them off their game and take away from their plan a little bit offensively.”

Puhalski also gave credit to the approved penalty kill over the last few games. The goaltending by Daniels, alongside the team’s ability to keep the puck has been beneficial to their success.

“It’s a little bit more attention to detail,” Puhalski said. “We’re not turning the puck over as much. And that’s just some confidence, get moving with the puck, getting a feel for where everybody is on the ice, and then you’re not going to turn the puck over so we’re doing a better job of that.”

Laurier improves to 5-5-2, which is good enough for sixth place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division. They go on a three-game road trip before returning home on Dec. 1 to face the York Lions.

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