Warriors’ playoff hopes get extinguished by Guelph Gryphons

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The Waterloo Warriors men&rsquo;s hockey team was handed their second consecutive loss in their best-of-three playoff with the Guelph Gryphons in a 4-1 game on Feb. 15. With the loss, the Warriors&rsquo; season comes to an end, while the Gryphons will move on to face the U of T Varsity Blues in the OUA semifinals.&nbsp;</p>

During the opening minutes of the first period, the Warriors were more physically dominant than the Gryphons. A breakaway by UW rookie forward Tommy Tsicos had Warriors fans cheering and almost celebrating the Warriors’ first goal; unfortunately for the black and gold and their fans, the puck smashed against the crossbar, giving the Gryphons a second chance. 

This was the first time in 21 years both teams had faced off during the playoffs, and it sure was something. As it was to be expected, the game was rough and overly physical; these two teams don’t like each other and the referees had their plates full. From trying to prevent brawls from breaking out, to stepping in the middle of punches and giving warnings to players from both teams, there wasn’t a minute when you couldn’t feel the tension. Both teams knew this was the decisive game: they had to win in order to stay alive in the playoffs.

Both goalies were also phenomenal for their teams, but Guelph’s goalie Andrew D’Agostini sealed the win for the Gryphons with 38 saves. As for Mike Morrison, UW’s goalie, he made 25 saves but it wasn’t enough to keep the Warriors alive. 

The first period was a heated exchange of hard hits and shots between both squads. During the final minutes of the first period, UW forward Philip Fife gave the Gryphons a one-man advantage by earning an elbowing penalty. The penalty extended into the second period, giving the Gryphons a power play to start the frame. 

Guelph’s top scorer, Nick Huard, took advantage of the power play and scored the first goal of the game at the 1:19 mark of the second, making it 1-0 for the Gryphons. The Warriors tried to respond but they were robbed by the crossbar once again when UW’s Mike Moffat’s shot went past D’Agostini, but not past the steel. The Warriors couldn’t contain the Gryphons for much longer, and Teal Burns scored for the Gryphons four minutes later making it 2-0 to end the second period. The Warriors would hit the post once more before the period ended. 

The last period was do or die for the Warriors and they knew it as they came out of the locker room with everything they had. Four minutes into the third period, it looked like the Warriors would finally get on the scoreboard, but were denied by Gryphon’s defenceman Nick Trecapelli. UW’s Kain Allicock had another chance with 2:34 remaining, but D’Agostini made the post-to-post save of the night, robbing Allicock’s last chance of scoring as a Waterloo Warrior and keeping it 2-0 Guelph. 

During the last minute of play, the Warriors pulled their goalie, but that backfired soon after as Guelph’s Jordan Mock scored an empty net goal, making it 3-0. With nine seconds remaining, UW’s Carlos Amestoy ruined D’Agostini’s shutout giving the Warriors an honour goal, making it 4-1. 

UW has six graduating seniors that won’t be gearing up for the black and gold anymore: Justin Larson, Riley Sonnenburg, Anthony Tapper Kain Allicock, Robin Clarke, and Jeff Einhorn. 

In an interview with head coach Brian Bourque, he said, “I thought we played well. When you go back to the game we hit our marks and our goals … and I felt like we played well enough to win it and I thought we had enough chances. Unfortunately, we hit a few poles and missed a couple of other good chances, and the one category, the one that is most important, is the one we didn’t reach, which was scoring more goals than they did.”

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