Frosty Mug win gives Gryphon hockey men berth in playoffs
Rob Massey, Guelph Spots Journal
GUELPH – Buoyed by the largest crowd in the history of the Frosty Mug game, the Guelph Gryphons skated to a 5-0 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks in OUA men’s hockey play Thursday night at the Sleeman Centre.
The Gryphs scored three goals in the first period and three power-play goals in the game played in front of 4,715 fans. That was the third-largest crowd to see a regular-season match in OUA men’s hockey.
“With the crowd here tonight and the excitement in the building, the Frosty Mug is always a special event for our guys, a chance to show our brand of hockey to folks in the community here downtown so they were excited to go and we got off to a great start,” Gryphon coach Shawn Camp said. “With that kind of start, it put us in great shape for the rest of the game.”
“We came out with a lot of excitement,” Gryphon forward Seth Swenson said. “Obviously with the crowd, you want to come out flying and we had a good start there. That first goal really put them on their heels and we built off of that. Maybe we could have kept it going a little longer, but if we get a start like that every game, we’ll be in a good spot.”
Andrew Masters stopped 26 shots for the shutout.
“He’s continued to play very well,” Camp said. “It doesn’t seem to matter who we put in the net, right now they’ve both been playing very well. Andrew’s been carrying the ball in the second half and again tonight he was terrific when we needed him.
“It gives our guys a real lift to know that the guy behind them is going to make a timely save. It was real important that he have a good game tonight and he did.”
Scott Simmonds, Marc Stevens, Manny Gialedakis, Swenson and Josh McFadden netted a goal apiece while Cody Thompson had three assists, Todd Winder and Gialedakis two each and Reilly O’Connor, Mathieu Henderson and Marc Stevens one each.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Gryphs and their 14th in 15 games.
“It’s apparent that the guys are pretty hungry to continue winning. Laurier was an excellent test tonight. Their special teams are outstanding. They have great balance on their lines and their D move the puck very well so it was good for our guys to get a good jump on them early. We felt that was important to establish our game early on and we did that.”
With the win, the Gryphs continue to lead the West Division. They’re at 16-4-1 while Laurier is third at 13-6-2. Ryerson Rams are second at 13-4-3 while the York Lions are fourth at 12-8-1.
“The old cliché of it being a four-point game and it kind of was because it puts a little distance between us and Laurier,” Camp said. “There are still so many games ahead of us that are so critical that every point at this time of the year is so important.”
“That makes it a lot sweeter,” Swenson said. “It’s a big event, but that’s a team we’re going to see later on when it comes to some serious hockey and it’s always huge to send a message early to them.”
The win also clinched a playoff berth for the Gryphs.
“It’s very exciting. For the fourth-year guys who are here, I don’t think we’ve had this much success early on in the year,” Swenson said. “Right now we’re just dealing with how to deal with the success. Obviously you don’t to get ahead of yourself and it’s one game at a time. So far we’ve been doing well and I think we’re getting better every game still.”
Guelph is to play the Brock Badgers (10-6-4) Friday at St. Catharines. Game time at the Hannah-Seymour Centre is 7:30 p.m.
“Staying focused on the task at hand (will be a key),” Swenson said of the remainder of the regular season. “It’s pretty easy in the spot where we’re at to get ahead of ourselves and start thinking about future games. We’ve got to take every game in stride and get better every time and we’ll be fine.”