Brock men’s hockey splits weekend

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A week after a valiant third period effort to send their game against the Laurier Golden Hawks to a shootout (only to lose after seven shooters failed to score), the Brock Badgers men’s hockey team responded with some late-game dramatics in overtime, defeating Laurier 3-2 at home.

The Badgers again came out slow, getting outshot, outhit and outplayed. Some nice saves from fourth-year goalie Clint Windsor almost got them into the intermission unscathed, but a turnover in the Brock zone left Laurier with an easy three-on-one break, with Jeremy Pullara opening the scoring.

In the second period, after already taking three minor penalties in the first frame, centre Adam Lloyd caught a Laurier skater with a cross-check to the head which resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Brock almost managed to kill off the major, but broke down with just under 30 seconds left on the power play, conceding the second goal of the game.

“It’s tough play,” said head coach Marty Williamson. “It’s a penalty, no doubt about it. The [Laurier player] is a smaller player and he ducks down, and it hits him in the head. Those are the rules, but I don’t think there should be more to it to some extent. Those are plays when you see guys in positions like that, you have to be careful.”

In the third period, left-winger Sammy Banga sparked momentum for the team when he deked twice and ripped a shot top-shelf to bring Brock within a goal. The game then opened up with rushes back-and-forth, as both goalies made spectacular cross-crease saves on one-timers.

After the Badgers pulled Windsor with just over a minute left, it had seemed that a wrister had snuck by Laurier to tie the game as the water bottle was knocked off of the net, and the Brock players had started celebrating immediately. However, the referees convened, and much to the chagrin of coach Williamson, it was ruled no goal.

As play continued, there was a mad dash in front of the net, and just as it seemed Brock was going to bury the tying goal, the referee called play dead. This was not the first instance this had happened in the third period. Laurier goalie Chris Festarini had been knocking the net off its moorings and had been warned each time by the official. After this time, the referee awarded the Badgers a penalty shot.

It was Sammy Banga that stepped up to take the shot, with the entire weight of the team on his shoulders. With under half a minute left, this was surely Brock’s last chance to tie the game. Banga was one of the Badgers that had missed in that shootout to Laurier a week earlier, and he was out for revenge. In the end, he made easy work using speed and a slick move from the forehand to the backhand and then elevating it over Festarini.

The momentum had clearly shifted towards the Brock bench, and Josh Timpano seized it in the three-on-three overtime with the game-winning goal on the assist from Skylar Pacheco.

After making it to overtime in three past instances this season and losing all three games, this win was very emotional for Brock. Banga took pride in his ability to produce for the team at the right moment.

“Our last game we had just played them and went to a shootout. I went first and I missed. A lot more pressure this time around…but I just stuck with my guns and it worked. That’s been my main job for the last few years, to produce for this team. I’ve been of to a little bit of a slow start, so it’s nice to get a few more goals for the guys, and that was a huge win.”

In the second leg of the back-to-back, the Badgers were defeated by the Guelph Gryphons by a score of 4-2. After Badgers centre Chris Maniccia opened the scoring in the first period, the Gryphons scored three unanswered goals before Brock responded with an Ayden MacDonald goal in the third period. Down only one goal, hoping to recreate the late-game dramatics from the night before, Windsor was pulled again. However, Brock was unable to tie the game and conceded an empty-net goal to lose the game.

The story of this game was the wide discrepancy in shots. Guelph dominated possession and run of play, tallying up 52 shots on goal compared to just 20 for Brock. The Badgers offensive struggles have been recognized this season by coach Williamson, and is a focus for the team to improve on.

“This has been an issue all year with us. We’re not a high-scoring team so…it becomes difficult for us. We’re not a big offensive team, so we need to play to our strengths and play close games, and find ways to win.”

The Badgers are next in action this Friday November 24 against Nipissing with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop at the Seymour-Hannah Centre. They also play Laurentian at the Seymour-Hannah Centre on Saturday November 25 with a 3:15 p.m. puck drop.

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