Menís Hockey: Losing weekend
The men’s hockey team kept things exciting last weekend, but lost two tight matches that went down to the wire. The Warriors took on the league-leading Western Mustangs and the eighth-place Brock Badgers in what was their second-to-last home weekend of the year.
Waterloo and Western came into the Jan. 11 game on streaks. The Mustangs were putting their 13-game winning streak on the line, while the Warriors were hoping to end a three-game slide.
Not only was Waterloo facing a strong body in net, Josh Unice (tied for wins in the CIS,) but Western’s offence was quite potent.
Western jumped out to a quick start, putting themselves up 2-0 only four minutes into the game. The Warriors were quick to respond, tying the game at two before the buzzer sounded at the end of twenty minutes. The second goal was the Warriors’ first of two shorthanded goals of the night. The first frame closed out with Western’s Julian Cimadamore scoring on the same power play that the Warriors’ goal had come on.
The Mustangs proved their place in the standings with an even stronger second period. The visitors held much of the puck control and earned themselves two more goals.
The scoring rush seemed to have calmed through the third until Warriors’ captain Kirt Hill cashed in on a beautiful shorthanded wraparound at 14:33. From there, a new Warriors team emerged. With Waterloo’s goalie Keaton Hartigan streaking to the bench for the extra man opportunity, the home team took control with another wraparound opportunity, bringing the match within one.
The Warriors had a few more chances in the dying seconds of the game, but were unable to capitalize. With Brett Mackie lying injured on the ice and a checking from behind call on Western’s Kyle De Coste with a mere two seconds left, the energy was drained from CIF Arena. The Warriors comeback effort had been too little, too late.
Luckily for the Warriors, Mackie returned the following night for the second match of the weekend.
CIF Arena was buzzing with competitive energy amongst players and fans alike. The visiting Badgers had filled fan buses with over 100 fans that made their way into Waterloo with a clear purpose: to help their team break their losing streak. With both teams winless in 2013, one was destined to jump into the win column on that night.
The Warriors played a much stronger game than the previous night, but the first period was scoreless. Not to say that it wasn’t exciting: seven minor penalties were called and Brock’s goaltender, Dalton McGrath, made 22 of his 50 saves of the night.
The Badgers were the first on the score-sheet, netting the puck through Hartigan’s five-hole seven minutes into the second period. The Warriors bounced back later with two quick goals. Their first of the night came off of a beautiful passing play from Mackie and Sam Caldwell, with Kain Allicock getting credit for the goal. Just one minute later, Hill scored his second goal in as many nights to put the Warriors up 2-1 on the power play.
The third period saw even more scoring chances, but the only goal came from a re-energized Brock team. The Badgers picked themselves up in the third period and tied the game at the 14:27 mark.
The remainder of regulation couldn’t break the 2-2 deadlock, so the teams headed to overtime. OT was fairly uneventful leading up to the last 30 seconds, when Brock had a flurry of great opportunities. Failing to cash in, the Badgers were forced into a shootout.
The first shooter, Brock’s Andrew Radjenovic, started it off with a jaw dropping goal: a deke with a beautiful one-handed finish. From there, the Warriors couldn’t recover as Brock scored on their second shot and the Warriors were unable to get anything past McGrath.
The back-to-back losses continue the struggle for the Warriors as they work to break out of their longest losing streak of the year. Another challenge presents itself, however, as the team suits up for six games away from home on their lengthiest road trip of the season. The Warriors need to break into the win column in 2013 and hold onto their playoff spot in the competitive OUA West.