Menís hockey at mid-season
Joe Underwood (#17) along with Justin Larson (#11) assisted the first goal scored by Andy Smith after shaving their heads in the intermission ceremonies.Abisade Dare
Third year forward Andy Smith (#21) staves off a challenge from Windsor`s Christian Steingraber. After a hot start to the season, Smith will be looking to rebound having scored just one point over the past seven games.File Photo
If the men’s hockey team had to be defined in one word, it would be clutch. Late game winning goals and solid play in both overtime and shootouts are just an everyday occurrence for the club.
Four of the team’s seven wins have come in extra time, while the other three have been comeback efforts. The Warriors have only dropped one of five games that went past regulation: a Nov. 16 matchup vs. the Guelph Gryphons.
Although such play is exciting to watch, it still is an area of concern for the Warriors. The team needs to get their legs moving and work for a lead in the early goings.
The Warriors have a 7-4-1 record, good for fifth in the always competitive OUA West.
They have defeated top teams including the UQTR Patriotes and the Lakehead Thunderwolves while splitting games with the second placed Guelph Gryphons.
To continue to compete with the best, the Warriors need to ignite their power play. They began the season playing fantastic on the man-advantage, working at nearly 32 per cent through their first six games. Since then, they have struggled. The Warriors have scored merely 10 goals on 56 chances; mellowing out to just under 18 per cent efficiency on the year.
Meanwhile, their penalty kill has been solid, only allowing 8 goals on 63 chances (over an 87 per cent penalty kill rate.) They have been able to hold the opposing team scoreless on the power play in seven games, including a streak of 12 consecutive penalty kills.
The Warriors have scored 40 goals through 12 games played (averaging 3.3 goals per game,) while having 41 goals scored against them (3.4 average.)
Although they sit near the middle of pack for statistics, there’s much for Warrior fans to be eager about. The team has showed promise, and is on pace to surpass their 15-9-4 record from last season.
Rookie sensation, Colin Behenna is a force to be reckoned with. The former Barrie Colts captain started out the season with a bang. In his first three games, he scored two game winning goals and notched seven points.
Through 12 matches, Behenna is averaging more than a point per game pace. He has 16 on the year: 6 goals and 10 assists. Although he is ranked seven in the OUA for rookie scoring, Behenna is only three points behind the league leader.
Justin Larson is hot on Behenna’s heels. The legal studies student, has opened the season on a high note with 15 points of his own. After putting up 19 points last season, Larson is on pace to nearly double that marker. He is playing a more disciplined style this campaign, only having 8 penalty minutes on the year while racking up 78 in 2011-2012. Larson has been an asset in the shootout, scoring on two of three attempts.
The Warriors have been steady on the blue line. Hockey fans have been able to witness some great defensive plays. Players like Joe Underwood and Steve Whitely have been solid shutdown players while still contributing offensively.
When the opposing team has managed to crack the defense, goaltending has been there.
Fifth year goaltender, Keaton Hartigan has been outstanding for the Warriors. He has turned away 270 of 295 shots against through 9 games played. This is good for a 0.915 save percentage and a 2.28 goals against average; solid statistics for an offense-minded league such as the OUA.
Hartigan has kept the opposing team at bay, giving the Warriors a fighting chance every game. He has taken the crowd’s breath away with numerous spectacular saves including his infamous glove saves.
Things are looking good for the Waterloo Warriors. This weekend marks the halfway point of what has been an exhilarating season. With the continuation of skilled offense, deep defense and thrilling comebacks, there’s no telling what will happen in the remaining 16 games. But one thing’s for sure: the Warriors will be sure to keep things exciting.