Waterloo’s Cole Murphy scored his first OUA goal, Mike Morrison stopped 35 of 38 shots, and Laurier left the Waterloo faithful – 1079 strong – silent as they defeated the Warriors 5-1 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Nov. 2.
The first period of the game started out with both teams seeming evenly matched, trading offensive zone time and scoring chances. Waterloo had the better of the chances in the period, including an odd-man rush just before the midpoint of the period that was thwarted by Laurier goaltender Colin Furlong. Captain Riley Sonnenburg had the best opportunity of the period on a shorthanded break and a little bit of pressure that, for a minute, had the fans forgetting the Warriors were on the penalty kill. Michael Siddall also had a good opportunity to get the go-ahead goal late in the first period on a breakaway but was unable to put the puck past Furlong.
The tug-of-war started to favour Laurier early in the second. A Waterloo penalty 1:30 into the period gave the Golden Hawks some momentum and forced Morrison to make two beautiful saves. A scramble in front of the net ended with the puck trickling out to the slot where it found a Golden Hawk stick. Morrison, falling forward, desperately made himself as big as possible and the shot did not find its mark. Shortly after, Morrison would stretch out his pad to keep the game scoreless as a cross-crease pass should’ve been an easy tap-in for Laurier.
Laurier would pull in front 4:20 into the period as a shot from Jimmy Soper found its way through Morrison’s five-hole and into the net. From here, the Warriors looked rattled. Aside from a Joey Champigny shot that beat Furlong but not the post, Waterloo couldn’t really get much going. Their passes were missing their marks or hitting Laurier players and bounces were not going their way, and the Golden Hawks were pressing hard.
Laurier’s efforts paid dividends, with two quick goals within 30 seconds in the 13th minute of the second period. The first goal was batted out of midair to Morrison’s off-side and shot into the net by Andrew Fritsch. This was quickly followed by a nice tip by Brandon Robinson off of a cross-ice slap pass by Alex Adams. The Warriors would have the third period to try to come back from the 3-0 deficit.
Starting the frame with a powerplay, Waterloo looked good early. Stephen Silas did an excellent job backchecking against a Laurier breakaway and the Warriors were getting good offensive zone time.
Unfortunately, this pressure was not to last. The Golden Hawks played an excellent defensive game that started with a ridiculously aggressive forecheck. Waterloo had no time to breathe even behind their own net and had stretches of the game where they were hemmed in their defensive zone even though they had puck possession. When they did manage to break out, Laurier would confuse them in the neutral zone or relegate the offence to relatively harmless shots from the outside that Furlong would easily handle.
The Warriors would get on the scoreboard midway through the third, however, on Murphy’s first OUA goal as a Warrior. A high shot from the left circle hit Furlong’s mask, bounced over him, and trickled into the net. Waterloo continued pressing after the goal, but after a few chances the Golden Hawks put up the wall again. The Warriors would get their final top tier chance of the game with three minutes left and Laurier would score two empty net goals to push the game out of reach.
Ten different players for the Golden Hawks would score a point and four of them earned two or more. Furlong would stop 37 of 38 Warriors shots in the win. Laurier played near-perfect defence and was just good enough offensively to defeat Waterloo.
The loss drops Waterloo to a disappointing 2-4-2 record, placing them ahead of only the winless University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the OUA West Division. The graduation of last year’s leading scorer for the Warriors, Colin Behenna, has left an offensive hole that the team needs to figure out how to fill.
Despite the unfortunate result, the showdown at the Aud was undeniably a great time. Warrior spirit was out in full force and the energy and enthusiasm in the crowd was contagious. The best moment of the game happened after the lone Warrior goal. The building practically exploded with cheer and the full “home team scored” package was brought out — goal horn, music and all. Here’s to hoping that this event becomes an annual tradition.
The Warriors’ next game takes place Nov. 5 vs the third place York University Lions. It is the first game of a four-game homestand at the CIF through Nov. 18.