Last year, they were the underdogs. They wrote the Cinderella story that every team dreams of going into playoffs, but this year the expectations are extremely high for the Brock Badgers men’s hockey team.
After dropping their first game this past weekend against Ryerson in overtime, and with Ryerson’s regulation win over York on Sunday, the Badgers fell just one point short of winning the OUA West division. Brock finished with a regular season record of 19-5-4 (42 points), recording their highest number of wins in the history of the program. The Badgers also finished the regular season with the fewest goals allowed in the entire OUA with 62, with Ottawa second with 64 against.
The Badgers also honoured their seniors on Saturday night against York. Dallas Rossiter, Adam Lloyd, Brandon O’Quinn, Jeff Corbett, captain Brody Silk and Jake Ringuette — who was only with the Badgers for one year after transfering from Lakehead. While this group has accomplished a lot in their past two seasons under Marty Williamson, the bar has been set high for the final month of their Brock careers.
“You can’t say enough. [Ringuette] has been here for a year. Rossiter has been a warrior for us, in and out of the lineup but never complains, Silk has been a fantastic captain, you can count on him, [Corbett] has been a huge part of the back end, they all have their own piece,” said Williamson. “They’ve been a huge part of carrying on the culture I tried to get in this team last year that — only with five or six guys returning — they set the example of what I’m all about.”
Brock was able to score a power play goal in both games this past weekend, once on Friday against Ryerson, and once on Saturday against York. Their power play, which had been struggling in the second half of the season, was one of their strong suits during the first half of the year.
“Our goal is to chip in with one [power play goal] a game, we looked at our options pretty good, and we have to keep updating and making small adjustments, sometimes you get too one-dimensional and sometimes that’s how we get,” said Williamson.
The Badgers will face York in the first round of the playoffs, with game one on Wednesday night.
“They’re a goal scoring team, we know that, we have to play good defence like we did tonight. We had a good goaltending performance,” said Williamson. “There’s no easy matchup, it’s back to work.”
Though York is the seventh seed in the west division, and the Badgers have won all four games against them thus far, no team is going to be easy to get past in the playoffs. 12 of the Badgers games this season have been decided by just one goal, and of their four games against York, the Badgers have given up a total of eight goals.
“We use our own example from last year, anyone can come out of a series of three games and if you steal that first game it gets very difficult to win a series, it’s one at a time, there’s no blowouts — it’s a battle,” said Williamson. “Getting back to our sort outs and our defensive structure. We really got away from it in the Ryerson game and we’ve wandered with it with these third periods where we’ve given up leads, when we have our awareness we’re a good hockey team.”
The Badgers open up their playoff series on Wednesday night at 7:15 p.m. at the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre. Game two will be played on Friday night at York, and if needed, game three will be back in St. Catharines on Sunday.