The Waterloo Warriors were angry. Less than two weeks earlier, the Badgers blanked them 6-0 in their own building. They were at each other’s throats from the moment the puck dropped. The hits were a little harder than usual and no matter how much the officials tried to separate them, the players kept finding their way into shoving matches in between plays.
The first goal came from Justin Brack, who carried the puck cleanly into the offensive zone and passed to Adam Berg, Berg had a look at the net, but instead of taking the shot he passed back to Brack. Brack shot the puck towards the net, more than likely hoping one of his teammates would scoop up a rebound, but his shot slipped through the goaltender’s pads for the first goal of the game.
It was an early goal, coming less than five minutes into the first, but it was not nearly as early as the teams’ previous meeting, when Johnny Schaefer scored 30 seconds into the first.
The Warriors, as it turns out, would not let history repeat itself, scoring just before the 10 minute mark of the first. Warriors captain Cam Nicoll took a long shot from in front of the net to tie up the game.
They went back and forth for the rest of the first, Skylar Pacheco scored unassisted for the Badgers, a minute later, Markson Bechtold scored for the Warriors.
Neither team would win if they kept politely waiting their turn to score — Waterloo broke the pattern with 14 seconds left in the period. The Warriors were down a player after a delay of game penalty was given to goaltender Julian Sime, the Badgers lost sight of the puck and Cole scored a perfect shorthanded goal to take the lead. This mistake would put the Badgers down 3-2 heading into the second.
“Things didn’t go our way in the first period a little bit but we had 17 shots and we just kind of hung together and that’s a sign of a good team and then we got it done in the second and third,” said head coach Marty Williamson.
After the relative chaos of the first, the Badgers managed to settle down in the second. Brock made mistakes that had led to Waterloo taking the lead, but Williamson praised their ability to stay focused.
“We persevered. We made some big mistakes early and it cost us. You can start moping around and feeling bad for yourself about that or you dig down and get better and I think we got better as the game went on,” he said.
Christian Girhiny tied the game near the 15 minute mark and Frankie Pucci gave the Badgers the lead with a goal just seconds before the end of the period. Waterloo’s frustration showed as they headed to the dressing room at the intermission.
The Badgers scored twice more, both goals coming from Ryan Burton. Waterloo’s chances dwindled, the Badgers had gotten under their skin.
The final score of 6-3 hung on the Warriors as they left the ice after the game, the door slammed behind them, the Badgers left the ice grinning. They had their chance to redeem themselves and they’d let it slip away, or rather, the Badgers had stolen it. They outshot Waterloo 47-26, forcing them to switch goaltenders in the third.
Brock is not a team with a definitive star. Their captain is a stay at home defenceman who scored just 14 points last year, only one of them a goal. When they named him captain, it was his attitude and love of the game that were cited as his strengths. Waterloo, in contrast, named an offensively driven forward their captain.
Every game is a collective effort for the Badgers, there’s pressure, yes, but no one player has the obligation of being the team’s only scoring option. If someone is injured or has an off night, there will always be another player to step up.
“We’re a committee team, anyone can jump up there and get goals for us that’s what we like about our team but the thing for us is just to play the right way. We think we have enough balanced scoring up front that it really doesn’t matter what our line matches are or who we play,” said Williamson.
Brock took Guelph to overtime the next night, winning it 4-3. It was once again a team effort. Tyler Rollo scored on the power play in the first, Jared Marino scored twice in the third, and Christian Girhiny netted the overtime winner. Mario Cavaliere made 33 saves against Guelph.
The Badgers will play Laurier on the road Friday night and then head home for a rematch against the Gryphons on Saturday.