Gryphon hockey men open playoffs with win
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons scored a pair of goals in the second period to open their OUA men’s hockey playoffs with a 3-1 victory over the Windsor Lancers Thursday night at the Gryphon Centre.
“Overall it was a good effort, but we still think we can be better,” Gryphon coach Shawn Camp said. “That’s the best part about it. We’re happy with the win, but nobody is satisfied.”
The teams scored a goal apiece in the first period while the third period was a scoreless affair.
“The hardest part is to come with the game Saturday,” Camp said.
Playoffs are the time of the season when every team steps up their play a notch or two. The Gryphons figure they can turn it up a lot more than they did in the opener.
“We think we can be better, for sure,” Camp said. “Tonight was a good feel-out game, the first game of a series. You don’t have a lot of time in a best-of-three so we have to make sure that we’re a little better on the road.”
“Playoffs you go up another notch,” Gryphon forward Todd Winder said. “You try to get up to that notch and we still have a couple more, definitely.”
While Guelph finished atop the West Division at the end of the regular season at 21-6-1, the eighth-place Lancers (10-11-7) were the one team in the division that the Gryphons didn’t beat as Windsor prevailed 5-3 at the Gryphon Centre Oct. 28 and 4-1 at Windsor Dec. 2. That, though, didn’t concern the Gryphs.
“In playoffs, it’s a whole new season and we honestly feel that way,” Camp said. “We know they’re a good team. You saw how hard they work so we know it’s going to be a battle to get this done.”
“They’re a hard-working team and they get to pucks,” Winder said. “They’re pretty quick so we had to make sure we played our game tonight.”
Winder scored a pair of goals for the Gryphs while Seth Swenson had the other one.
“That was nice, for sure,” Winder said of his goals. “But it was just a great team win overall and I’m happy with that.”
Winder’s first, a power-play marker, tied the score at 13:49 of the first period, a little over eight minutes after Alex Friesen had opened the scoring for Windsor. Winder’s second goal midway through the second proved to be the winner while Swenson tallied just over eight minutes later to complete the scoring in the game.
Marc Stevens, Scott Simmonds, Cody Thompson, Reilly O’Connor, Nick Boyer and Michael Stevens each had an assist in the game for the Gryphs.
Ryan Shaw had an assist for Windsor.
The Gryphs had a tentative start against the Lancers, the lone West Division team not to lose to the Gryphs in the regular season. The Gryphs held a 12-9 edge in shots on goal in the first period and 28-7 the rest of the way.
“It’s the first period in the playoffs,” Camp said. “Everybody’s excited on both teams and it took a little while for guys to settle down. They were very excited, but once we got going, we were skating and moving the puck well. We didn’t give up a whole lot tonight, which was good.”
“We played them early in the season, but we haven’t seen them for a while,” Winder said. “They had a good season so we had to see how they were doing.”
Andrew Masters picked up the win in net for Guelph with 15 saves while Jonathan Reinhart took the loss for Windsor despite making 33 saves. He was replaced by Matt Badour for the final 6:42 of the second period after suffering a nasty cut on his forehead after losing his helmet making save with opposing players skirmishing in front of him. He had it bandaged up and returned for the third period.
The Gryphs were 1-for-5 on their power play and kept Windsor scoreless on its two power plays.
Second game of the best-of-three series is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Windsor Arena.
“It’s a smaller rink so we just have to play our game,” Winder said. “We’ve got to stay out of the box and stay disciplined. We’ve just got to play our game and play with speed.”
Should the third game of the series be needed, it’ll be played Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gryphon Centre.