Men’s hockey has win streak snapped

(Photo by Nick Lachance)
(Photo by Nick Lachance)

The Wilfrid Laurier men’s hockey team split games this weekend beating UOIT Ridgebacks 6-4 on Thursday before falling in Windsor 6-2 on Saturday night. After the weekend, Laurier remains in seventh in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division.

“It speaks to what we’ve been doing all year since the new year,” said second-year Frank Riddle following Thursday’s win. “We are never really giving up and always working hard. When we get back to the basics and get it in deep good things will happen.”

Against UOIT, Laurier jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of goals by Greg Cerilli and Joseph Vanni. However Laurier couldn’t keep up momentum, allowing the Ridgebacks to claw back to 2-2 with goals. The back-and-forth pace continued with Benjamin Skinner, Zack Woolford and Cerilli helping restore a 5-3 lead before the third period. In the third a Trent Hawke power play goal extended the Hawks’ lead to 6-3.

A late UOIT goal made the game close, but the Ridgebacks couldn’t rally back in the end.

“It was little bit of a see-saw affair,” said Laurier head coach Greg Puhalski. “But when they made it 6-4 with about four minutes left in the game I liked the way we played the last four minutes. We really closed the door and didn’t give them anything.”

Riddle and Mitchell Good both added two assists. Riddle, who has normally played defence, is currently making the transition to winger in an effort to help the Hawks’ offence.

“We want him to focus on playing wing,” Puhalski commented. “He’s a good skater and he hasn’t played a lot of forward, but he has good speed and one thing we want him to do with that speed is help create a fore check and bang some bodies.

“Whenever you’re a good skater you can really set the tone for any type of fore check you are going to have so the skaters on our team they need to take a lead role in that and really help our hockey club.”

The Hawks fore check was strong on Thursday night, as the team controlled the puck for most of the game. If not for a few giveaways and defensive breakdowns, the game could have been out of reach a lot sooner. Puhalski gave particularly strong praise to the line of Woolford, Good and Vandenberg.

At the back end, goalie Ryan Daniels made 36 saves in the win.

The win on Thursday gave Laurier its second three-game winning streak of the year.

“I think the one thing is play for the now and not get too caught up in any type of streak,” said Puhalski. “Playing good, solid hockey is what we need to focus on. If we do that we’ll get the results we need.”

However, on Saturday night Laurier couldn’t continue rolling after jumping out to a 1-0 lead over the Windsor Lancers. The Lancers scored six unanswered goals chasing Daniels from the net in the second period. Duncan Long finished the game for the Hawks. Hawke and Riddle had goals in the loss.

The Hawks now face a huge challenge this Thursday as the OUA-leading Western Mustangs come to town in the midst of a 15-game winning streak. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Sunlife Financial Arena.

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