All good things come to an end. The men’s hockey team found that out the hard way when they lost to the York Lions and Laurier Golden Hawks, Jan. 22 and 23, respectively.
In his return to Columbia Icefield Arena, former Warrior and current York Lions forward Justin Larson might not have found the scoresheet, but his teammates ensured that he did leave with the most important souvenir — a win.
The Lions earned goals from Mitch VanTeeling and Colton Vannucci, as they snapped Waterloo’s eight-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory over the Warriors Jan. 22.
Colin Behenna scored the only goal for the hosts, who suffered their first loss since Nov. 14, 2015. Waterloo saw their record fall to 12-9-0 on the season, while the Lions improved to 13-6-3 — climbing back into first place in the OUA West in the process.
Chris Perugini earned the win for the Lions, kicking aside 31 shots for his division-leading 11th victory of the season. Mike Morrison made 28 saves for the Warriors — many of the highlight-reel variety — in the defeat.
After Larson was acknowledged in a pre-game ceremony, the big forward and his Lions came out of the gates searching for an early goal. It was the former Warrior who had the best chance from the left faceoff dot, but Morrison robbed him with the glove hand. It was one of a number of big saves the Waterloo keeper made in the first period, which kept the game scoreless after 20 minutes.
The Lions broke through early in the second frame, as their third-ranked power play went to work. VanTeeling tipped a point shot right in front of Morrison, forcing the Warriors keeper into a gorgeous right-pad save, but the rebound lay right there for VanTeeling, who made no mistake to put York up 1-0.
The game remained a one-goal affair until midway through the third, when Vannucci crossed in the high slot and beat Morrison to make it 2-0. With Larson in the box later in the period, Behenna smacked home a Stephen Silas rebound to draw the Warriors back to within one, but that’s as close as they would get.
Things did not get any easier the following day when the men’s hockey team travelled down the road to face off against Laurier. The Warriors might’ve felt like they won the Battle of Waterloo, but the Laurier Golden Hawks won the war.
The Warriors lost their second and final matchup with their cross-town rivals by a score of 4-1 Jan. 23, despite carrying the bulk of the play and outshooting the Golden Hawks 45-25.
Vonne Merante was unquestionably the game’s featured player, making 44 stops in the Laurier net. Mac Clutsam and Mike Webley each added a goal and an assist for Laurier, who improves to 11-11-0 on the season.
Mike Moffat scored the only goal for the Warriors, as they dropped their second straight contest following an eight-game winning streak. Morrison turned aside 21 shots in the defeat, which dropped Waterloo’s record to 12-10-0.
Laurier registered four of the game’s first five shots, but Waterloo poured it on for the rest of the frame, notching 19 shots in the opening period. But it was Laurier’s Derek Schoenmakers who drew first blood, beating Morrison to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Laurier would add to their lead in the middle period as Erik Pushka found twine on Morrison’s blocker side to make it 2-0. The ice was once again tilted in favour of Waterloo for most of the period, but unlike in the first, the Warriors finally broke through in the second period — Moffat cracked Merante’s goose egg with under three minutes to play in the frame, making it 2-1 for Laurier heading into the third period.
The Warriors kept the pressure on in the final 20 minutes, but they couldn’t force another one past Merante. Just past the 10-minute mark, the Hawks widened their lead when Clutsam tipped home a power play marker to make it 3-1 Laurier. Webley then added an empty netter to round out the scoring.
The Warriors will now look to get back on a winning track Jan. 29, when they make the long trek north to face the Lakehead Thunderwolves in back-to-back contests.