By Ron Guillet
The Laurentian Voyageurs men’s hockey team played back-to-back home games this past week against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.
The first game took place Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex. Laurentian kept up with their northern rivals in the first period but couldn’t capitalize on a five-minute major after defenseman James Delory was ejected for a hit to the head. Lakehead opened the scoring late in the period on a goal by forward Paul Thompson.
The second period wove a similar story as both teams looked equal but the Thunderwolves would once again be rewarded with a goal, this time by defenseman Ryan Magill. Laurentian goaltender Alex Laino made 20 saves after two periods but his strong play didn’t provide a spark to the Voyageurs, who were dismantled in the third period.
Lakehead erupted with five consecutive goals on Laino and Laurentian only managed to find the back of the net with just over a minute remaining as forward Marc-Alain Begin converted.
The Thunderwolves improved their record to 6-1 after the game and moved to the top of the Ontario University Athletics West division. Laurentian, meanwhile, dropped their fourth-straight game and had a 3-5 record after the loss.
On Friday, Nov. 8, the Voyageurs looked to dish out some revenge against the Thunderwolves in the second leg of the back-to-back games.
The first period began how the Thunderwolves finished the previous game. They peppered Laurentian goaltender Charlie Millen with 16 shots in the frame, which was mostly due to the four powerplays they were awarded, and limited the Voyageurs to just three. Defenseman Chris De La Lande opened the scoring before forward Cody Alcock added another just over a minute later.
The Voyageurs replied by outshooting the Thunderwolves 12-8 in the proceeding two periods, but they couldn’t solve goaltender Justin McDonald as he was solid once again between the pipes. They dropped the game 4-1 with Millen making 20 saves and Brandon Howes scoring the lone goal.
“(It) was rough weekend overall,” Laurentian forward Nick Esposto said. “(In the) first game we had our chances and kept it close, but their goalie made the saves when he needed to.”
Esposto, who has six goals and 11 points in nine games, said the Voyageurs should improve over time.
“We have a solid team but we just have to keep getting better in our zone and the goals will come,” Esposto said. “Our powerplay is pretty good when we’re on our game so we just have to keep working on the little things and we will be in good shape.”
Forward Richard Therrien, meanwhile, who has six points in nine games, thought the team played well against one of the top teams in the OUA.
“I think we played very well considering the outcome,” the Hearst-native said. “We were in the game both nights. The guys came to play and battled hard and we just didn’t get the outcome we wanted to. I think we should start focusing on the little things. Doing this will help us win more games.”
Laurentian is now seventh in the East division with a 3-6 record and a -11 goal differential.
The Voyageurs are up against the Waterloo Warriors next on Friday, Nov. 15, where they’ll look to snap their five-game losing streak on the road.