The men’s hockey team put a stamp on their mid-season success with a 3-1 win over nationally ranked Guelph this past Friday night. The Badgers were playing host to Guelph in what was the fifth and final meeting between the two teams this season.
Brock’s first four games against Guelph were all losses — including a 5-3 loss in the Steel Blade Classic (exhibition), a 3-2 loss in October, a 4-2 loss in November and a 2-1 loss two weekends ago. This time, however, the Badgers were all over the Gryphons from the start.
Brock’s forechecking was outstanding from the get go on Friday. Though they were outshot each period, allowing 31 shots on the night to their own 26, the Badgers appeared to carry the momentum for the majority of the game. The Badgers ability to cycle the puck down low and win the 50-50 battles had them camping out in Guelph’s end for the majority of the first and third periods.
The story of Brock’s recent success against a Guelph team that has had their number all season is the same story that is defining their season. They are a team that is capable of competing with any team on the ice, and head coach Marty Williamson believes that Friday’s win was one of their best efforts all season.
“That was one of our best 20-man efforts,” Williamson said. “A hell of an effort by all 20 guys, and when you have the trust that the guy next to you is going to do his job, that builds that inner toughness.”
The Badgers began their season struggling to find a way to win. In their first 11 games, the Badgers had only won four times — that stretch of games included four straight losses to open their regular season. The next 11 games, however, the Badgers managed to turn things around, winning seven and losing four. Of those losses, two were to Guelph and one to York, both top-seeded teams in their division who they have beaten in that 11 game-span. Despite their struggles early on, the Badgers are hitting their stride at just the right time with playoffs around the corner. They have proven that they are not going to be a one-and-done team this season.
In their past eleven games, the Badgers have a 2.18 goals against average, and have averaged 2.63 goals per game. Goaltender Clint Windsor has been a key to the Badgers success defensively, and though the Badgers have had their fair share of high-scoring contests, in Friday’s game against Guelph, Windsor showed that in tight games, he can shut the door on any team.
“It gives you the confidence that if you make a mistake, not everything is going to cost you, he compliments our guys that he thinks he’s had the least amount of work since he’s been here, the guys are working hard and if we make a mistake he’s there to shut the door for us. He’s doing a fantastic job,” Williamson said of his goaltender.
The Badgers weren’t able to complete the weekend sweep, falling to York on Saturday 3-0 on the road. The Badgers struggles have come mainly away from the Seymour-Hannah Centre, with a 2-8 record on the road this season, while holding a 9-3 record on home ice.
Brock will play host to Ryerson on Thursday, before travelling to play Western on Saturday night. With only six games remaining in the regular season, Williamson likes what he’s seen from his guys in the last stretch of games, and believes his team is where they need to be.
“I think we have confidence now that we can play with anybody, we’ve become a tough team.”