After beating them 4-3 just a week earlier, the Brock Badgers welcomed the Guelph Gryphons men’s hockey team for their final meeting of the regular season.
The game was over for the Badgers by the end of the first period. They traded goals back and forth. Todd Winder of the Gryphons scored, then just over a minute later, Braden Stortz tied things up.
The Gryphons took a shot on the power play that bested Badgers goaltender Mario Culina and less than 30 seconds later, Frankie Pucci answered back for the Badgers.
The Gryphons were able to run away with it in the second half of the first. Ryan Valentini put the Gryphons up 3-2 at the 13 minute mark and then extended their lead with a breakaway in the final minute.
“We didn’t have a first period — our powerplay wasn’t good, our penalty kill wasn’t good we just gave up too much,” said head coach Marty Williamson.
The second period saw Jordan Maletta score the first goal of his OUA career to give the Badgers their third goal of the game. Maletta came to the Badgers at the beginning of January after spending two years in the AHL.
“It helps with the confidence to get that first one. He’s a goal scorer and he wanted to get that and it was a nice handsy play. It sure is gonna help him going forward,” said Williamson.
Guelph denied the Badgers a game tying goal. The Gryphons played well in the final two frames but Williamson attributes the loss to their flat first period.
“We played two good periods so it’s a good lesson for our guys. If we play three periods we can beat anybody but when we start giving a period away it gives them a chance.”
Brock shot the puck consistently, recording 10 shots in all three periods, but it was the power play that separated the two. Guelph scored on both their power play opportunities and Brock was not able to score on either of theirs.
In four regular season games, along with two exhibitions in the Steel Blade and the Dover Coast Cup, the Badgers and Gryphons have established an intense rivalry. Both teams are 2-2 in the regular season series, but the Gryphons took both exhibition games and those might mean just a little bit more to the Badgers.
“We won the last one so we know this was going to be a pushback from them and it’s hard to beat teams twice in a row, there’s such parity in this league,” said Williamson.
With three weeks left in the regular season, the Badgers will be looking for a playoff spot. They have six games remaining, which means 12 available points in the standings. It would be impossible for them to finish in first place as they currently sit with 25 points and first place University of Toronto has 39, but it is entirely possible for them to get out of fifth place in the standings. Ryerson, Guelph and Windsor are currently ahead.
It’s also possible for the Badgers to slide down in the standings, although less likely considering they face the worst team in the OUA, the York Lions, twice before the end of the season.
“We have to rest. We’ve had a heavy schedule. For us it’s just, when we come back, [we need to] play consistently 60 minutes,” said Williamson.
Their schedule might be easier in the last weeks of the season, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to ease up.
The Badgers’ next home game is this Thursday, January 23 against the 5-17 York Lions at the Seymour-Hannah Centre.