Worrisome losses plague men’s hockey before holiday break

The Wilfrid Laurier University men’s hockey team will head into the exam break on a sour note after dropping both contests this week.

The team was destroyed 7-0 by Guelph on Thursday, before dropping a 4-1 decision to York on Saturday night.

The game did not start of well for the Hawks, who allowed three goals in the first period following a few unfortunate bounces.

Jordan Forfar opened the scoring after a puck bounced out off Hawks’ goaltender Ryan Daniels’ glove and led to a scramble in front. Forfar then added to the lead after choosing to shoot on a 2-on-1 rush and beat Daniels. York would round out the period with a goal by Troy Barss.

“Well, I think when you fall behind 3-0 like we did in the first period, obviously that’s not a good thing.” said head coach Greg Puhalski. “A couple of goals I think Ryan Daniels would like to have back, but he’s saved our bacon so many times this year. He had a tough start but to his credit he bounced back, and played really solid the rest of the game.”

In the second frame Laurier would not give up, coming out with more energy and creating plenty of scoring opportunities. The team also tightened up on the back end, with some key stops coming from Daniels, and defenceman Chad Lowry blocked a shot that would have been a goal.

Laurier would finally capitalize on the power-play after a screened shot from the right wing bounced out front to Mitchell Good, who would find the back of the net.

However, this would be as close as Laurier would get. Despite a strong final period that saw plenty more great opportunities, Laurier could not close the gap.

The team failed to score on two third period power-plays and finished the night 1-for-5 with the man-advantage.

“I think the one positive is that we didn’t give up. We kept playing and battling and I think [it was] one of our better games in that regard, not giving up and getting too down on ourselves,” commented Puhalski after the game.

“It’s a loss. Most losses generally aren’t positive for your team, but I think we did a lot of better things tonight then we have recently.”

Certainly another thing the Hawks did well against York was play physical. The Hawks came out hitting, generating a number of chances throughout the game as a result. The epitome of this showcase was when defenceman Frank Riddle stood up Forfar inside the Laurier zone, causing him to temporarily leave the game with an injury.

“(Hits like Riddle’s) I think generally they lift your bench up, they give your bench energy and that’s always a great thing to have. They can always change momentum – a big goal, a big save, a big hit, a fight although we don’t have fighting in our league. But those types of plays can give your team momentum and alter the course of the game,” said Puhalski.

The Hawks entered the week with a chance to pass Guelph in the standings. But the two losses dropped their record to 4-11-1, leaving them placed eighth in the west.

As the team heads into a lengthy exam break, Puhalski explained that he would like the team to improve on making less crucial mistakes. “I’d like to see us eliminate a couple things. Obviously we turn the puck over a lot and that’s an issue. We have to a better job managing the puck, taking care of the puck and not throwing it into careless areas. It’s an area we’ve really struggled in, and if there was one thing we could improve that would be it.”

The Hawks hope the new year brings better results for the team as they return to action Jan. 6th at Western.

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