The hockey world’s best kept secret

So you call yourself a hockey fan, as so many do on our fine campus. You know Laurier has a men’s hockey team, and you occasionally see articles in the Cord’s sports section describing their endeavours. Yet you do not know where they play, when they play, and who exactly is on the team (and as a result to not you don’t know why you should go to their games or follow them).

Well the first two are answered easily and quickly: they play at the Waterloo Recreational Complex, only a short walk through Waterloo Park away from campus; and their game times can easily be found on the Laurier Athletics website or yearly calendar.

With those two out of the way, I will now give a run down on the key talent that our school has attracted to don the purple and gold sweaters in the league that true hockey pundits deem the hockey world’s “best kept secret”.

Goaltending

#1 Ryan Daniels; 6’2, 215 lbs, Pickering, Ontario – After last year and the graduation of five year Hawks’ veteran Jeff MacDougald, the 22-year-old Ryan Daniels was handed the job as absolute number one goaltender for the 2010-2011 team, with the probable expectation of playing every minute possible in the Laurier net. The prospect of being leaned on is not something foreign or strange to the sophomore as he had 49 and 60 game seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit in 06/07 and 07/08. In 2006 the Ottawa Senators saw enough potential in him to select him with their fifth round pick, 151st overall at the draft in Vancouver.

Daniels is a big, solid puck stopper reminiscent of the style of Jean-Sebastien Giguere in that he is not the type to flop around, despite a high level of intensity. To date he is the nation’s top net-minder in the save percentage category, and will have to be the rock on which the Hawks build a playoff run.

The only criticism I have of him is that while he is one of the top shot-stoppers in the University game, he often has suspect rebound control that has, at times, cost him dearly. Nevertheless, his pedigree of 174 Ontario Hockey League appearances with Saginaw and Peterborough, and the fact of his drafting by an NHL team speaks to the fact that Laurier is very lucky to have him.
(Backup David Clement is untested, and has only 6 games of Tier II Junior ‘A’ experience with the OJHL’s Mississauga Chargers to call a pedigree)

Defence

#6 Ryan Bernardi; 5’8, 175 lbs, Etobicoke, Ontario – Bernardi has all the tools to be a professional offensive defenseman. The fifth year veteran of two full NCAA Division I hockey seasons with the deceased Wayne State Warriors program is probably the fastest skater on the team, and possesses probably one of the wickedest slap-shots in all of Canadian University hockey. His slight size will probably hinder his progression to the highest levels of pro hockey, but the longest serving member of the team is an absolutely pivotal part of this squad that, at times, has found offense difficult to come by.

As of January 10th, he lead the Hawks in scoring among defencemen with 14 points in 19 games, and is easily on his way to smashing his previous season high of 15 last season.

#7 Garrett Sinfield; 6’3, 210 lbs, London, Ontario – Sinfield, a junior defensive defenseman, has been a rock this season on the back end for the Hawks, and his responsibility and work ethic makes it easy to say that he has been one of the best defenders Laurier has had in the past five years. Mobile, intelligent, and physical, the London-native spent four seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit where he was just as valuable to head coaches Bob Mancini and Todd Watson as he is to his Laurier boss Greg Puhalski.

#18 Phil Magistrale; 6’1, 190 lbs, Tsawassen, B.C. – If Ryan Bernardi is the type of offensive defenseman that electrifies you with his speed and shot, then Magistrale is his exact counterpart. Calm, and calculated, the westerner is a power play quarterback extraordinaire, and is a key reason why Laurier owns the country’s best power play. His uncanny ability to get pucks through from the point is invaluable; though he is also rarely out of position defensively as well.
Although he has some Western Hockey League experience splitting time between Tri-City and Spokane, Phil made his name as a dominant offensive d-man in the high quality British Colombia Hockey League with the Surrey Eagles.

(Last year head coach Kelly Nobes brought in two big, and physical defencemen with a mean streak in Mike Gauthier, a former St. Louis Blues prospect with ten games of professional experience with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces; and former Barrie Colt regular Kyle van de Bospoort. They have added a rugged, physical edge to a team that was known two years ago as a soft team that could be pushed around. Former Brampton Battalion defensive defenceman Zack Shepley is dependable and rounds out a strong Hawk defensive corps that has made it difficult for opposition teams to get to Ryan Daniels.)

Stay tuned for an extensive run down of the forward corps.

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