There may not be a happier coach in the OUA than Marty Williamson. The rookie head coach has guided his veteran team to a berth in the OUA Final Four this weekend for the first time in ten years. Brock will face York in the OUA West division finals in another best two-of-three series — the Badgers have won just two West division titles in their history (1994-95, and 2007-08). The winner of this series will also advance to the U SPORTS national championship tournament in New Brunswick.
Following a 4-3 overtime win in game one, thanks to the heroics of Ayden MacDonald, the Badgers returned home (for the second weekend in a row) with an opportunity to sweep a playoff series.
Brock and Guelph entered the second period locked at one goal a piece, despite the Gryphons outshooting the Badgers 17-5 in the first frame. Brock quickly ran away with a 4-1 lead in the second period before giving up a goal with under two minutes to play, leaving them with just a two goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
The Gryphons came out in the third fighting for their season to stay alive, and it showed, scoring their third and fourth goals within the first seven minutes of the period.
“The game seemed to settle after their two goals in the third period, a lot of teams would have folded after that, but our guys didn’t and I’m proud of that,” Williamson said.
Brock battled the remainder of the period to push the game to overtime, despite once again being outshot by Guelph, 18-9.
In overtime, the Gryphons appeared to have scored minutes in, but the goal was called off and play resumed. At the 7:12 mark of the first overtime period, Mitch Nardi tipped in a Dexter Weber shot to send the Badgers to the final four.
“We knew we were going to have to score at least four goals, they’re a juggernaut offensively, we knew they were going to come at us,” Williamson said.
Despite the high-scoring contests with Guelph this past weekend, senior goaltender Clint Windsor was on fire, turning away 39 shots in game one and 46 shots in game two. In four playoff games, Windsor holds a 1.90 goals against average, a .952 save percentage, and has made 160 saves in total.
Offensively, Brock scored a total of nine goals in two games against the Gryphons, and scored five against Laurier last weekend, for a four game total of 14. Including their final two regular season games, Brock is currently riding a six game win streak going into their Final Four matchup against York.
Brock and York have met three times this season. In their first game, York won 4-3 in a shootout on October 14. The two teams didn’t meet again until January 5, where Brock took game two by a score of 4-2, and York took game three at home on January 20 by a score of 3-0.
While Williamson and the rest of the Badgers men’s hockey team were ecstatic after the win on Saturday, however, they’ll have a tough battle to get to the OUA championship and the U SPORTS championships.
“It’s always about playing 60 minutes. York’s a good team, being consistent, we’re going up against a heck of a team, but we’ll enjoy it right now and get to work on Monday,” Williamson said.
The Badgers will begin their third round series on Wednesday when they travel to York for a 7:00 p.m. game agains the Lions. Game two will be played in St. Catherines at the Seymour-Hannah Centre, with puck drop scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Should a game three be necessary, it will be played Saturday night at York at 7:00 p.m.