Gryphons hit early to take opener from Brock Badgers
GUELPH – A pair of goals about a minute and a half apart in the first period sparked the Guelph Gryphons to a 3-2 victory over the Brock Badgers in the opening game of their OUA men’s hockey West Division semifinal Thursday night at the Gryphon Centre.
“We got off to a good first period,” Gryphon coach Shawn Camp said. “There was lots of energy in the first period and we got the puck down low, managed to get some pucks on net, had some good quality chances and most the most of it. That momentum carried us through most of the game.”
The Gryphs led 2-0 at the end of the first and 3-1 after the second.
Brock closed the gap to a single goal just shy of the six-minute mark of the third, but that was to be the game’s final goal.
“At the end in the third period, we were grinding it out protecting the lead,” Camp said. “We’re growing as a team. We’re getting better at protecting leads than we did early in the year. Earlier in the year we had leads that we gave away because we just didn’t stay with the plan enough. Everybody buys in here so it’s working.”
Luke Kutkevicius, Todd Winder and Andrew Dodson with his second goal in three games collected the goals for the Gryphs. Assists went to Stephen Templeton, Winder, Justin Lemcke, Ryan O’Bonsawin and Matt Timms.
Christian Girhiny and Ayden MacDonald scored for Brock with help from Connor Brown, Cole Thiessen, Skylar Pacheco and Tyler Rollo.
The Gryphs outshot the Badgers 32-28 and both teams went 0-for-2 on their power plays.
Brendan Cregan had 26 saves in the Guelph net while Mario Culina had 29 saves for Brock.
The Gryphs have played Brock more than any other team in the OUA during the last three or four seasons and that’s led to both teams knowing each other pretty well.
“No surprises in terms of what we expected,” Camp said. “They compete so hard. They didn’t give up, made it very close and had a couple of chances, but we weathered the storm. They compete so hard and that’s exactly what we expected. We expect the same tomorrow, too.”
Many of the previous meetings have been rough and tumble affairs, but that wasn’t the case Thursday.
“We’ve certainly had our battles, but at this time of the year penalties and power plays are just so critical that nobody wants to be that guy that takes the penalty that costs the team so both teams are being very careful,” Camp said. “At the same time they’re taking some good licks at each other for sure.”
Most of the rough stuff between the squads usually occurs in the annual preseason Steel Blade Game hosted by Brock. It’s usually played in front of a huge crowd and that usually helps build the tension.
“That’s a very emotional game, a great way to start the season,” Camp said. “Let everybody know that we are two very bitter rivals and it’s always a fun chapter in the history of the two teams playing.”
Second game of the best-of-three series is set for Friday at the Seymour-Hannah Centre in St. Catharines. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
“There’s no time to celebrate,” Camp said. “We’re right back at it. It’ll be harder tomorrow at Brock and we expect that they will play as hard as they did tonight. It was a real good game both ways. Brock played very well. They move the puck well, their D were mobile and they had a couple of quality chances that Brendan Cregan made good saves on.”
If a third game is needed, it’s to be played Sunday at the Gryphon Centre starting at 7:30 p.m.
Gryphons 3 Badgers 2
- Guelph Sports Journal