Men’s Hockey comes up short
The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team came up short in an effort to bring home a win for a special crowd on Wednesday.
With roughly 3,000 elementary school students in attendance, the Golden Hawks suffered a 4-3 loss to rivals the Waterloo Warriors. They now fall to 5-9-1 on the year and lead the basement-dwelling Guelph Gryphons by a mere two points.
Despite the loss it was an exciting atmosphere for the home team, who fell to 5-9 with the defeat.
“I think any time you’re able to put 2,500, 3,000 people in a building, for a university sport, it’s a real good thing,” said head coach Greg Puhalski.
“I thought the atmosphere was good today, it was much similar to last year’s event, just not the outcome we wanted.”
With freshman Harrison Pharoah between the pipes, the Golden Hawks played a strong, high-energy first period. Freshman Zach Lorentz put the team out in front with a goal, pushing him into a tie for the team lead in points.
“It’s nice to get some opportunities. I’m trying to feed off all the guys. It’s a really good group of guys, and I’m just trying to find my role,” said the first-year forward. “I’m trying to make plays and generate offence, because to me that’s the kind of guy I am.”
Lorentz’s coach feels that despite some growing pains, his freshman has developed into an asset.
“Generally, Zach’s come in as a first-year guy and has had an impact for our team right off the bat. He’s had his ups and downs like most first-year players and most players in general will have,” said Puhalski.
“That being said, as far as consistent level and doing the things he needs to do, he’s been pretty good and I think his game will grow and grow as he plays more games here in our uniform.”
While the Golden Hawk first period was promising, the Warriors replied with a torrid second. Two Waterloo goals later and Laurier was back playing catch-up.
The Warriors added two more tallies in the third and despite Laurier goals from first-year center Erik Pushka and second-year Luke Hietkamp, the home team’s comeback effort came up short.
“It’s just a maturity thing and we need to play together,” said Puhalski. “When you play together you win together, you lose together and you don’t have a game that’s fragmented. That was today’s game, where Waterloo showed their experience and their composure and was generally able to control the pace of the game”
Pharoah had an impressive game in net for the Golden Hawks. His transition from intramural goaltender to varsity starter has been a compelling storyline this season, stopped 37 of 41 shots sent his way.
“Waterloo really picked up their game in the second and third, and I think if it wasn’t for Harrison Pharoah, our goaltender, the score could have been much worse.” Puhalski said of his rookie stopper.
Defence will be a factor going forward for the struggling Golden Hawks. In the last two-thirds of Wednesday’s game, the Laurier defense struggled to restrain Waterloo scorers and afforded them many scoring chances.
According to captain Tyler Stothers, the adjustments that need to be made will focus on their opponents shot quality, rather than quantity.
“Right now that’s our biggest focus. We’ve got to do a better job — it’s not so much the amount of shots that we have to eliminate,” said the fourth-year forward. “If we’re keeping them to the outside like we were in the first period, giving up 15 shots a period isn’t ideal, but we thought we didn’t really give them any grade-A scoring chances.”
He added, “We’re more worried about keeping the scoring chances down and if they want to shoot from the blue line on our ice then, by all means we’ll take those.”
The Golden Hawks’ next action comes on Dec. 2, when they host the Western Mustangs.