Pulling a rabbit out of a hat

The Warriors men’s hockey team got off a losing skid with 7–1 and 3–2 wins over the Concordia Stingers and CIS fifth ranked UQTR Patriotes this previous weekend, the latter arguably the Warriors biggest win of the year yet.

“I was very happy with how our team competed this weekend,” said Warriors head coach Brian Bourque. “We were committed to our game plan and we played with a higher level of intensity.

“We respect the UQTR program and how they are usually one of the top teams year after year.  Our goal for the Warrior hockey program is to contend each year. In order to do that we need to play, compete with all teams in our league.”

After an intense 60 minutes of hockey, the kind one might expect to see in a Queen’s Cup final, the two teams headed into overtime knotted at two. Matt Kennedy received a rebound right in the crease 3:30 into the four-on-four overtime and was sure to put it top shelf into the gaping net for good measure after the Warriors missed a number of opportunities throughout the game. The game winning marker was Kennedy’s second of the evening.

“As a team, we had struggled a bit lately,” admitted Kennedy, “and beating a team like that, and in the fashion we did, brought some confidence back to the room.”

Warriors tender Mike Morrison had his second start in as many days. Morrison was called upon to keep the Warriors in the game, making a number of key saves, at one point single-handedly defusing a UQTR three-on-none with a diving Superman-like blocker save.

“I could see the play start to develop and all I could think was ‘oh no’,” said Morrison. “There really isn’t much going through your head in a situation like that. You’re really just trying to battle to get into a good enough position to give yourself a chance. Have to get lucky sometimes.”

Guillaume Nadeau also had a dominant performance in net stopping 37 of 40 shots, while Morrison stopped 37 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .963 over the last two games and earning himself OUA Male Athlete of the Week honours.

“Anytime you are being recognized for your play on the ice it is extremely rewarding,” Morrison said. “We needed to get back on track, and I am very happy that my play helped us do that.”

UQTR would be the first to find the board just over six minutes into the first period. Just before the halfway mark of the period, Justin Larson put up the equalizer for the Warriors, the shot only just squeezing through Nadeau and over the goal line. The goal was assisted by Kennedy and Anthony Tapper.

The same trio combined again just three minutes later: Kennedy one-timing a Larson pass from out front to give the Warriors a 2–1 lead and bring the crammed Columbia Icefield to its feet.

“I think we all bring something different to the table and we understand and embrace our roles,” said Kennedy. “This makes it easy to anticipate each other out there and make good reads.”

The goal marked Tapper’s third point in two nights since returning to the lineup after missing most of the early part of the season due to injury.

“Tapper is a great player,” Kennedy spoke of Tapper’s return. “He plays simple, works hard, and is great defensively. No one expected him to step in and have the impact he’s had after so long off. He was a huge part of our success this weekend.”

Tommy Giroux scored to tie the game for UQTR with the lone goal of the second period, a frame not without its fair share of controversy.

With under a minute left, a melee ensued which saw five players assigned 10 minute misconducts, some accompanied by minor penalties for a grand total of 56 penalty minutes dished out all in the last minute of the period. Antoine Quevillon and Anthony Verret of des Patriotes sat, while three of Waterloo’s top ice earners in Chris Chappell, Brett Mackie, and Captain Joe Underwood did the same.

Underwood, a workhorse who typically logs in excess of 30 minutes of ice time, was a huge loss for the Warriors, as they only had five defencemen dressed for the night with Jeff Einhorn sitting out. The remaining rookie and sophomore defencemen Stephen Silas, Mike Moffat, Ryan Hanes, and Adam Bignell went to work, switching back and forth between pairs for over 12 minutes, successfully keeping the Patriotes attack at bay for half of the third period.

Mike Moffat, a first year defenceman and former Kingston Frontenacs captain, took on a different role with the Warriors Saturday, playing the lone defenceman on one of Waterloo’s four forward power play units. “Mike has been excellent addition [to our program],” said Bourque. “We are expecting Mike to continue to develop in all areas of his game with hopes that he contributes in five-on-five, powerplay, and penalty kill.”

After an indecisive third period overtime was needed where Tapper’s return to the lineup continued to be a big boost for the Warriors. While the Warriors seemingly dominated overtime, Tapper drew a high sticking penalty which allowed them to dominate more now up a man.

Kennedy and Larson would connect again along with Chris Chappell on the power play overtime winner, each earning three points on the night.

With the home portion of the first half of their schedule complete, Waterloo now rounds out the month of November with four consecutive road games, the first in Kingston against the RMC Paladins Nov. 21.