Gryphons finally get their first home victory of season
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons were determined not to finish the 2018 portion of their OUA men’s hockey season without a win at the Gryphon Centre.
Thursday night in their final home game of the year, the Gryphons claimed a 5-2 victory over the York Lions.
“We’ve been close a few times at home,” Gryphon captain Scott Simmonds said. “Now we’re kind of rolling a little bit. We’re three of the last four and if we can take advantage of home ice, we’re going to do very well and if we continue to play like that, we’ll be fine.”
“We played through the game,” Gryphon coach Shawn Camp said. “In other home games we’ve had a little sag, in the second period especially, but tonight we played right through that and we thought that our effort was real solid right from the beginning to the end.”
The Gryphs turned in their finest effort of the season and they kept that effort up throughout the game, scoring three times in the third to secure the win.
“The full 60 was the best that we’ve had at home, for sure,” Simmonds said. “If we can continue to do that into the second half, it’s going to be a huge advantage going into the playoffs and down the stretch.”
“That’s three of four now so hopefully we can get on a little bit of a roll here just before the break and finish up strong so that we put ourselves back in the mix again,” Camp said.
The Gryphs had dropped their previous seven home games of the regular season – one in a shootout and only one by more than two goals. Prior to Thursday’s win, the Gryphs had been outscored 24-12 and never scored more than three goals in a game at home.
“Right after the first faceoff we made a dedication to taking three strides every time you didn’t have the puck, closing gaps, not giving any time to the other team and if you do that, it’s going to be very successful,” Simmonds said. “Sometimes you don’t get the bounces, but tonight we made the right plays. We made big plays when it mattered and those three steps really closed the gap on the other team.”
“We’ve been so good at home over the years and this has been a bit of an anomaly for us,” Camp said. “Hopefully now we start rolling at home as well.”
The hosts had the lone goal of the first period before the teams scored once apiece in the second.
Cody Thompson led the Gryphs with two goals and an assist while Matt Kenney and Marc Stevens each had a goal and an assist. Nick Boyer scored the other goal while Simmonds and Jesse Saban each had one assist.
Sal Filice and Josh LaFrance tallied for York while assists went to Justin Maiolino, Reid Jackman and Dexter Bricker.
The Gryphs outshot the Lions 40-27 thanks to a 15-6 advantage in the third period. Guelph was scoreless on its lone power play while York didn’t score on either of its power plays.
Evan Cormier made 25 saves for the win in the Guelph net and Mack Shields was tagged with the loss in the York net. He had 35 saves.
The result leaves the Gryphs tied for seventh in the West Division at 5-7-2-2 while York is second in the division at 9-3-1-1.
The game was played on the team’s Aggies Night and it attracted 550 spectators, the second-largest home crowd of the season behind the 615 who attended last month’s morning School Day Game.
“It’s always nice to have fellow students come to support, especially the Aggies,” Simmonds said. “We love when they are here. They’re just a great crowd – high energy and very respectful. We really appreciate the support that they give us and we understand the heritage that we have with the agriculture school. Anytime that you can play in front of those people and the great students, it’s a fun time.”
“It was such a thrill tonight because it was Aggies Night,” Camp said. “Certainly that gave the guys a little extra jump tonight for sure. Having their enthusiasm behind us made a nice difference tonight.”
The win was Guelph’s third in four outings as they beat the Waterloo Warriors 3-1 at Waterloo Nov. 10 and the Toronto Varsity Blues 3-2 at Toronto Nov. 17.
The Gryphs have two games to go until the exam and Christmas break. They’re to play the Windsor Lancers at Windsor (7-6-0-0) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the Brock Badgers (9-4-0-0) at St. Catharines Nov. 30 starting at 7:15 p.m.