Gryphons blank Brock in series opener
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons struck for three goals in the second period as they opened the OUA women’s hockey league playoffs with a 5-0 blanking of the Brock Badgers Wednesday night at the Gryphon Centre.
The performance by the Gryphs might have been their best of February as they finished the regular season with three wins (one in overtime) and two losses (also one in overtime), although they had already clinched first with three games to go.
“Our last few games haven’t necessarily been our best performance,” Gryphon coach Rachel Flanagan said. “Sometimes those games where you’re a bit complacent can kind of wake you up a little bit. Having a loss at the end of the season is a good way to wake you up. I knew we’d be ready, but their response was really good today.”
“We really had a good start to our game and we really kept it going throughout the three periods and we were able to capitalize on our chances,” Gryphon goaltender Valerie Lamenta said. “We’ll definitely build on that for the next game.”
The Gryphs scored single goals in the first and third periods while Lamenta stopped 17 shots for the shutout.
“She’s in a zone,” Flanagan said of Lamenta. “She spent a lot of the summer before coming into here reflecting on the fact that it was going to be her final year and she was putting in the work she needed to. Our goalie coach has really kind of centered her a little bit as far as knowing some of the things she needs to be getting better at and she’s really bought in.”
Lamenta was aided by her teammates who displayed a dedication to defensive play.
“Our back checks were really, really good today,” she said. “We were picking up sticks in front of the net and making sure that the other team wasn’t getting to those rebounds. That just makes my job easier.”
Lamenta led the league during the regular season with a 1.24 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. Those stats are her best since the 2015-16 season when she was the U Sports player of the year.
She also had five shutouts in the regular season to lift her five-year total to 23.
Claire Merrick fired in a pair of goals for the Gryphs while Kaitlin Lowy, Kristen Jay and Lauren Ianni added single goals. Lowy, Katie Mikkelsen and Miranda Lantz each had two assists while Mallory Young, Merrick, Laura Crowdis and Sydney Davison were each awarded a single assist.
Jensen Murphy started in net for Brock and yielded the five goals on 23 shots. Emma Balazsi faced two shots in the final five minutes of the game.
The Gryphs finished atop the standings at the end of the regular season with a 16-3-2-3 record while Brock was eighth at 8-8-6-2. The Gryphs and Badgers met once during the regular season and the Badgers won 4-3 in a shootout Jan. 9 at the Gryphon Centre.
“They have a good goaltender and their top line is really hard to play against,” Flanagan said. “Annie Berg (11 goals-14 assists in regular season) is really hard to match against. She’s a threat no matter where she is on the ice. We had to manage her today and I think we had a pretty good game plan going in. We had pre-scouted them enough to know where we could expose some weaknesses and we took advantage of that today.”
If the Gryphs had a concern coming out of the game it was the number of penalties they took. They were whistled for seven minor penalties, two more than Brock. However, the Gryphs were 2-for-4 on their power play and Brock was scoreless on six power plays.
“I don’t think the penalties were selfish or undisciplined,” Flanagan said. “They just were penalties that happened. Anytime you get out of a game where you’re able to have that many penalties and your penalty kill is perfect, I feel pretty good about it.”
Second game of the series is to go Friday at the Seymour-Hannah Centre in St. Catharines. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
If a third game is needed, it’s to be played Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Gryphon Centre.
Gryphons 5 Badgers 0
1. Guelph, Merrick (Young, Lowy), 10:45 pp
Penalties: Cohoon Brock (hooking), 9:42; Crossman Gue (slashing), 12:23.
2. Guelph, Lowy (Merrick, Mikkelsen), 1:01
3. Guelph, Jay (Crowdis, Lantz), 6:32
4. Guelph, Ianni (Davison, Lantz), 12:24 pp
Penalties: Blomberg Brock (body checking), 12:11; Mikkelsen Gue (roughing), 16:56; Gava Gue (tripping), 18:56.
5. Guelph, Merrick (Lowy, Mikkelsen), 15:06
Penalties: B.Murphy Brock (roughing), 2:41; Maplethorpe Brock (slashing), Young Gue (interference), 8:36; Lowy Gue (kneeing), 9:26; Rodenburg Gue (head contact), 10:24; Haughey Brock (tripping), 13:13; Crowdis Gue (hooking), 14:38.
Shots on Goal
Goalies: J.Murphy (L, 55:06, 23 shots-18 saves), Balazsi (4:54, 2 shots-2 saves), Brock; Lamenta (W, 17 shots-17 saves), Guelph.
Power Plays (goals-chances): Brock 0-6; Guelph 2-4.
- Guelph Sports Journal