While most were preparing for their Thanksgiving turkey, the Brock Badgers hockey team hosted the third annual Steel Blade Tournament at Thorold Arena this past weekend. After Saturday’s championship game versus the Ryerson Rams the Badgers had five new things to be thankful for – four goals and their first championship title.Brock overcame the Rams’ scrappy play en route to a 4-2 victory to capture the Steel Blade championship.
It took the Badgers a few minutes to realize that the Ryerson Rams were not going to be as easy an opponent as Brock’s first round match-up Conestoga College Condors were and by the time they figured that out, they found themselves down 1-0 just five minutes into the game as the Rams surprised Brock goaltender Shane Delaronde with a flurry of shots early.
“We kind of expected something like that, but the only thing you can do is go out there and play. Hopefully our veterans could step up and get us through the slow start and they did,” said Murray Nystrom, Badger head coach.
After the slow start, the Badgers took control of the game with intense, physical play from a number of line combinations.
Ryerson goalie Jon Sikkema maintained the Ram lead until the second period when Justin Cook and Scott Mackenzie hooked up for a nice give-and-go to send Cook in on a break-a-way to beat Sikkema tying the game at one.
After going 0-4 on the power play the Badgers were finally able to capitalize on the man advantage when defenseman Adam Shields beat Sikkema through the five hole on a shot form the point with 4:22 remaining in the second period.
Two and half minutes into the last frame the Badgers widened their margin by two goals as Scott Mackenzie buried a lose puck sitting in the crease.
After the goal, emotions started to run high on both benches as the game turned into a chippy affair. A series of penalties were given out half way through the period including a five-minute cross-checking penalty and game misconduct to Andrew Livey of the Badgers. On that ensuing power play Ryerson scored to narrow Brock’s lead to 3-2.
“When situations like that start happening, and it’s a one or two goal game, experience is what you count on out of your leaders and even some first year players,” said Nystrom.
With the referee continuing to call penalties, the Badgers went on the power play late in the period and put the game out of reach with a goal by Welland native Joe Forte.
“We were outplaying them for the majority of the game, but they hung in there for a while and to get that fourth goal was big,” said Forte.
The Steel sword comes back to Brock as they reclaim the prize from third place finisher Guelph Gryphons who won the tournament in 2000. Brock and Niagara College tied and split the honours in 1999.
The road to the championship game was a fairly easy one for Brock as they hosted the Conestoga College Condors in both teams’ first game of the tournament.
The Badgers, in a wave of offence pounded the 2000 Ontario College Athletic Association’s silver medallist Conestoga College Condors 10-0 on Friday evening.
The Badgers scored five goals in the opening period in a blinding array of offensive chances. Centreman Scott Thompson scored three goals in the opening frame with his first coming only 1:16 into the game on a beautiful individual effort. After a failed two man advantage by the Badgers, Thompson again scored, by picking up a rebound and depositing the puck past Conestoga goalie Mike Tongi.
“Credit is due to my line mates (Ryan Shaver and Mike Clark) for making the transition to the University game easier. They got me the puck in close tonight (Friday) and all I had to do was bury them,” said Thompson.
Thompson completed his hat trick with 6:48 remaining on the clock in the opening frame, by using his speed again and slipping the puck past a sprawled Tongi.
The Condors did not help their own cause as they could only register two shots on goal in the opening period. Conestoga’s many attempts at the net were either wide or blocked by a credited Badger defence. The defence smothered any offensive opportunity the Condors could muster.
“Defense is something that they’re hearing from us every day and the true tests are going to be against the better teams throughout the year. The offence is going to create more opportunities for themselves by playing strong in our own zone,” said coach Nystrom.
Delaronde only faced 11 shots the entire game as he registered a shut out in his first action back from an off season hand injury.
“The hand is all better now, but I must admit it was one of the easiest games I’ve played for Brock. It just goes to show how well the team played to only give up eleven shots,” said