Gryphon hockey men headed to Nationals, too
LONDON – The Guelph Gryphons are headed to both the OUA men’s hockey Queen’s Cup championship match and the U Sports national championship tournament.
Mikkel Aagaard fired home a shot from the slot at 14:44 of the second overtime period to give the Gryphs a 4-3 victory over the Western Mustangs Sunday night at Western’s Thompson Arena in the third and final game of the West Division championship series.
After dropping the opening game of the series in the same arena Thursday night, the Gryphs needed wins on back-to-back nights to claim the West Division title.
In Sunday’s game, the Gryphs scored the lone goal of the first period before Western responded with a pair of goals just over two minutes apart early in the second to shoot ahead. But Guelph regained the lead early in the third with Jesse Saban and Aagaard scoring 23 seconds apart before the period was two minutes old. However, Western’s Stephen Desrocher tied it with 1:40 to go in regulation time to force extra time.
Scott Simmonds scored the other regulation-time goal for the Gryphs while Todd Winder, Connor Bramwell, Simmonds, Ryan Valentini and Cody Thompson each had an assist for the Gryphs. Thompson also drew an assist on the winning goal.
Rylan Bechtel and Cordell James scored Western’s other goals while assists went to Spenser Cobbold with two and Kyle Langdon, Jonathan Laser and Trevor Warnaar with one apiece.
Both goaltenders, Andrew Masters of the Gryphs and Luke Peresinni of Western, came up with big saves in the extra time. In the end Masters made 45 saves including 17 in overtime while Peresinni made 43 with 13 coming in OT.
Aagaard has become an integral part of the Gryphon squad in his short time with the team. While he has been on campus practising with the team all season, he wasn’t eligible to play until the trip to Thunder Bay to play the Lakehead Thunderwolves Feb. 1 and 2.
A Dane who played for his country in the 2015 world junior championship tournament, Aagaard spent two seasons in the minor leagues as he played in the American Hockey League with the Stockton Heat and Springfield Thunderbirds and in the East Coast Hockey League with the Adirondack Thunder and the Manchester Monarchs. He had nine goals and seven assists in 48 games in the AHL and 16 goals and 35 assists in 43 games in the ECHL. He had to sit out a year from his last game in the minor pros which was with Springfield Jan. 27, 2018.
Aagaard had a single assist in his four regular-season games with the Gryphs, but has come alive in the playoffs with eight goals and eight assists in eight games. He’s also picked up at least one point in each playoff outing.
The Gryphs advance to play the Queen’s Gaels in the Queen’s Cup game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Kingston Memorial Centre.
The Gryphs and Gaels met once during the regular season with Guelph winning 7-1 at Kingston Oct. 19. That was the first win of the regular season for the Gryphs following three consecutive losses.
Guelph and Queen’s will both play in the Cavendish Farms University Cup national championship tournament at Lethbridge March 14 to 17.
Other teams in the national tournament will be the McGill Redmen as Quebec representative, St. Francis Xavier X-Men and New Brunswick Varsity Reds as Atlantic representatives, Alberta Golden Bears and Saskatchewan Huskies as Canada West representatives and Lethbridge Pronghorns as hosts.
Gryphons 4 Mustangs 3
1. Guelph, Simmonds (Winder), 16:21
2. Western, Bechtel (Cobbold), 2:39 pp
3. Western, James (Langdon, Laser), 4:43
Penalties: Aagaard Gue (tripping), 1:02; Bechtel West (tripping), 19:14.
4. Guelph, Saban (Bramwell, Simmonds), 1:25
5. Guelph, Aagaard (Valentini, Thompson), 1:58
6. Western, Desrocher (Warnaar, Cobbold), 18:20
Penalty: Raycroft Gue (interference), 9:04.
Penalty: Bench West (too many men served by Brooks), 7:58.
7. Guelph. Aagaard (Thompson), 14:44.
Shots on Goal
Goalies: Masters (W, 47 shots-45 saves), Guelph; Peresinni (L, 43 shots-40 saves), Western.
Power Plays (goals-chances): Guelph 0-2; Western 1-2.
- Guelph Sports Journal