Brock Hockey has tough weekend as playoffs approach

The Badgers celebrate a goal in a loss this past weekend / Chloé Charbo

 

As the season begins to wind down, both Brock’s men’s and women’s hockey teams are slipping in the wrong direction in the standings. It has been a back and forth season for both teams and with a limited number of games left, this is not the time to go on a losing streak. But this weekend was filled with a lot of that for Brock, as both teams lost twice.

The men started the weekend by hosting the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks on Friday night at the Seymour-Hannah Centre. Coming into the game, the Ridgebacks had a record of 13-8-1. The Badgers were hot coming in, having won three of their four games in 2017. Brock was without their star goaltender, Clint Windsor, who was out with an injury.

After 40 minutes of play, the Badgers had yet to find the scoreboard as they were down 2-0. It was Brody Silk who finally found the back of the net in the third period, cutting the Brock deficit in half. But it was only the Ridgebacks who would score after that as they added a couple of late goals to take the 4-1 victory.

Brock’s second game of the weekend came on Saturday, and things got a lot worse. The men took on Queen’s and the offence struggled once again, as they were kept off of the board entirely. The Gaels’ would take an easy 5-0 victory as the Badgers dropped their second straight game.

The Brock women hosted the Western Mustangs on Saturday, as they looked to end their two game losing streak. Annie Berg continued her strong rookie season with the Badgers as she netted a pair of goals. Christina Ieradi had assists on both of Berg’s goals. The two goals were not enough for the Badgers, however, as they would ultimately lose 4-2.

On Sunday, the women welcomed the Windsor Lancers at the Seymour-Hannah Centre. After falling behind 2-0, it was the trio of Ieradi, Berg and Cara Sayles who once again teamed up as Ieradi would find the back of the net for the ninth time this season. The Badgers couldn’t add the equalizer, however, losing by a final score of 2-1.

With only five games remaining for the men, and seven games remaining for the women, both teams need to win a majority of those games to guarantee themselves a playoff berth. If the men can win four out of their remaining five games, they should be able to push their way up to the number four seed in their conference which would give them home ice advantage in two of the three games in the first round of the best of three playoff series. The women on the other hand are currently two spots out of the playoffs as they sit in 10th place in the league. They are five points behind Laurentian, who holds the eighth seed, so they need a strong finish to their season to get enough points to move up the standings.

Brock’s goaltending has been outstanding for both teams this year. Clint Windsor, while healthy, for the men has been arguably the best goalie in the OUA as he leads the league in save percentage (.945) and is near the top in goals against average as well (2.37). Jensen Murphy has been every bit as good for the women, as she currently holds a .937 save percentage and a 2.03 goals against average. Without these two, Brock’s teams would most likely be out of the playoff race as they have both won their team games throughout the season with great performances.

So if goaltending has been outstanding, what exactly is Brock’s problem?

The men have major problems when it comes to their special teams play. Their powerplay sits at 14th in the OUA at 14.4 per cent. Their penalty kill is even worse, as they sit 17th in the OUA at 79.3 per cent. To put that in perspective, there are only 20 teams in the OUA, so Brock sits near the bottom of the pack in both their special teams. The top five teams in the OUA based on powerplay percentage are UQTR, Concordia, York, McGill, and Carleton. All of these teams sit near the top of their respective divisions and are well on their way to a playoff berth. Although the women have had an outstanding penalty kill this year, which currently sits in fourth in the OUA at 90.9 per cent, their powerplay has been not so great. At 14.3 per cent, they currently rank eighth out of 13 teams.

Both teams need to fix their special teams’ issues if they want to make the playoffs and make a run for the OUA Championship. The women have some work to do in their remaining games, but they are still very much in contention for one of the final playoff spots. The men look to be on their way there, but if they can win most of their remaining games, they should be able to secure home ice advantage. It’s been an overall successful year for both teams, and a playoff berth would make things even better.

 

Brock men’s hockey travel to Windsor to take on the Lancers at 7:30 p.m. on January 27. The women will travel to Toronto to take on the Ryerson Rams at 7:00 p.m. on January 28.

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