It has been an up and down season for Brock men’s hockey, who finished fifth in the OUA west division this season with 33 points. A midseason surge helped the Badgers move up in the standings and eventually clinch a playoff berth.
The Badgers will begin their playoff quest Wednesday night versus the fourth seeded Laurier Golden Hawks, who finished with 33 points as well.
In the two games between the Badgers and Golden Hawks this season, both needed extra time to be decided. On November 11, the Badgers fell 5-4 in shootout and only seven days later, they would come back to win at Laurier 3-2 in overtime.
The offseason wasn’t pretty for the Badgers as they parted ways with long-time coach Murray Nystrom following 18 seasons at the helm. Then an early August, they brought on former Niagara Ice Dogs head coach Marty Williamson on an interim basis.
Williamson wasn’t given much time to recruit a new roster, but the Badgers entered the season with 11 senior players.
The Badgers began the season with a four game slide, losing two top teams from the OUA east division – they would go on to lose seven of their first 10 games. This was followed by a stretch of eight wins in 11 games, allowing for them to pretty much secure a spot in the playoffs.
However, to close the season the Badgers lost five of seven before closing out on a two game winning streak.
Laurier had sort of an opposite season from Brock – winning seven of their first 10, but having a stretch late in the season where they lost eight of 11. However, just like Brock the Hawks finished with two consecutive wins.
The three game series between the Badgers and Hawks will be one that will feature two of the OUA’s top goalies. Clint Windsor of Brock is currently seventh in goals against average at 2.51 and first in save percentage at .930. Laurier’s Colin Furlong has played nine less games than Windsor but is fourth in GAA at 2.32 and third in save percentage at .927.
It isn’t difficult for the Badgers to stay out of the penalty box, as they ranked 14th in the entire OUA league in penalty minutes. They’ll need to avoid penalties because the Hawks have the fourth best powerplay at 21.5 per cent. Brock is near the bottom of the league at 12.9 per cent.
Brock does have a strong penalty kill at 84.8 per cent and fifth in the league, while Laurier ranks eighth at 83.3 per cent.
As evenly matched as the two teams are, we are probably looking at this series going three games with one or both goalies stealing the show at some point.
With first game goes Wednesday night with puck drop at 7:00 p.m. and game two hosted by Brock on Feb. 16 at 7:15 p.m. Game three, if needed will be Feb. 18 at Laurier.