Heartbreaking loss ends season

“I expect a lot from them in the coming years, I think they’re going to be a great team.”

Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

With much riding on the outcome of Sunday night’s game, Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team fell 3-2 in front of their home crowd and will miss the playoffs for a second straight year.

Stakes and hopes alike were high as the Hawks entered the weekend with games against Western and Lakehead on their platter, needing only to capture one win to secure a playoff berth.

“We had an opportunity if we went out and won one of our last two games to at least have a chance to play some meaningful games in the playoffs, and that’s experience our team desperately needs,” said head coach Greg Puhalski.

Friday night’s matinee resulted in a thorough 6-0 dismantling at the hands of the Western Mustangs, and the Golden Hawks were left to collect the pieces and regroup with the implications of Saturday’s game versus Lakehead now looming even larger: a win would send them to the playoffs, a loss would send them home.

Despite the tantalizing promise of playoffs with a win, Saturday’s game against Lakehead was more defined by close calls and missed opportunities by the Golden Hawks.

“I thought we battled hard. We worked our tails off. A couple bounces around the net where we didn’t finish and we didn’t execute on our powerplays,” said captain Tyler Stothers.

The Golden Hawk offence found difficulty gaining traction against a methodical, organized Lakehead unit.

Laurier never led in the game and with the score locked at 2-2 in the dying seconds of the second period, the Golden Hawks made a mistake that would cost them dearly.

“We had a poor line change,” Puhalski said.

“I think their player came in, pump-faked a shot and our defence kind of fell for it, and he was able to deposit the puck in the net.”

“They capitalized on our mistakes. They’re a very opportunistic team and credit to them — they played a great game,” added Stothers.

The miscue and subsequent goal put the Hawks down one and, despite a handful of chances in the third period, they could not bridge the one goal wide gap to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

“We played okay [Saturday], I don’t think Lakehead outplayed us,” said Puhalski.

“I think it was just a matter of they cashed in on one more chance than we did. I thought we had as many chances as they did. Just a tough way for us to end the year.”

Lost in the chaos of the playoff hunt was Senior’s Night.

Not only was Saturday’s loss the end of the Ontario University Athletics regular season, it also represented the last game of three seniors on the Golden Hawk roster.

Included in the graduating group was captain Stothers.

Having put forth a remarkable final season in which he placed third in the league in goals scored, Stothers reflected on what made a difference in his performance.

“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t really producing, but I stayed positive. That has a lot to do with my teammates, everybody keeping up with a positive attitude,” he said.

“Sometimes the bounces go your way, sometimes they don’t, and that’s kind of the approach I took. Just work hard and good things will happen.”

The captain also communicated his expectations for the young roster he helped lead through yet another tumultuous season in Waterloo.

“There’s a great core that’s coming back. A lot of guys you could see their progression from the beginning of the season until now. Guys are kind of finding their roles and finding their spots on the team,” said the graduating fourth-year.

“I expect a lot from them in the coming years, I think they’re going to be a great team.”



















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