There was a lot of magic this season for the Brock men’s hockey team, but that magic disappeared at the worst time as the Badgers were officially eliminated from the playoffs in a 7-1 loss at home this past Sunday. With the loss, the Badgers are also very likely eliminated from being included in the discussion for the wildcard spot at the U Sports national championships in Lethbridge this year.
After dropping game one at home to the Mustangs 3-2 in regulation last Wednesday, the Badgers kept their season alive winning game two 3-2 on the road in London.
On Sunday, nothing seemed to go right for Brock, although the score remained close after one period with Western up 1-0. The Badgers offense struggled to find the same chances they usually get. Brock went scoreless on seven power play opportunities on Sunday night, while their penalty kill gave up three goals on four opportunities. The chances were there for Brock all night long, power play opportunities coming directly after Western goals. The chances were there for them to regain their footing, but no bounce went there way.
Western goalie Luke Peressini made a number of timely saves, stopping 31 of 32 shots on the night.
“It kind of flipped, we had two goals [on the power play] last game, tonight it didn’t go. Power play has a lot to do with bounces, and it seemed every bounce went to their stick, and that’s just the way it goes some nights,” said head coach Marty Williamson. “You don’t want to be in this [do or die] position, it just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Brock struggled against Western during the regular season, losing 5-1 loss in London and a 2-1 loss in St. Catharines, bothing coming in the month of November. Western was the only team in the OUA West division that Brock didn’t manage to beat prior to the playoffs. Though, Williamson didn’t think those two losses affected the Badgers confidence going into the quarterfinal series.
“I don’t think so, the one game was 5-1 and it wasn’t good but the other game I thought was a well played game, he said. “They’re a good team and we knew it was going to be a tough series. The first two games we were fighting for every inch, and this one just went sideways on us.”
Despite an earlier exit than they had hoped for, the Badgers had their most successful regular season in program history. With a record of 19 wins, and 42 points, the Badgers also allowed the least goals in the entire OUA, and were ranked for the majority of the regular season in the U Sports top 10 rankings.
“For me, it was one of my most enjoyable seasons with a group of guys, we brought in 15 new players, we set a record at Brock for most wins and most points. Yeah it didn’t go for us in the playoffs, but we had contention, and that’s the type of team we want to be every year,” said Williamson.
In terms of looking forward to next season, Williamson emphasized that while they have to replace important players, they have a wealth of returning players to lean on in their attempt to make it back to the OUA finals and national championships.
“There’s a great core of players, we lose some good players, there’s always that type of turnover. Now the focus is on recruiting, and bringing in five or six guys to add to this group, if we can find the right guys, we’re back to being that kind of [contending] team.”