The curse of Saturday night continues to haunt the hallways of Fort William Gardens.
A night after a thrilling 4-3 shootout win over the Guelph Gryphons on Friday, the Wolves (10-6-2) couldn’t complete the sweep, falling 5-2 on home ice, continuing a regular season trend of series splits that dates back to opening weekend.
Jason Grecica, who scored late in the third to cut a three-goal deficit to two at the time, echoed his teammates and said he’s not sure what the problem is.
“We all thought coming in we were all confident, all positive. After that collapse the last game we came back and won it and it was really good. We thought we were going to come out tonight flying. Everyone was feeling good. I’m not 100 per cent sure what the problem was,” said the sophomore Grecica, whose goal was his first of the campaign.
It has Lakehead interim coach Mike Busniuk stumped.
“We had 44 shots on net, so does that mean they’re trying? Yes, I think they’re trying. Does it mean they make bad mistakes? Yes, they made bad mistakes. Everything (Guelph) got today we gave them. What we have to figure out is how we have to play. And we haven’t figured it out,” Busniuk said.
“We’ve played 18 games and we still can’t figure it out. We still can’t figure out that the puck has to go deep and we have to chase the other team because we’re successful when we’re doing it.”
Take the go-ahead goal in the second.
Lakehead forward Mike Hammond, the hero a week ago against McGill in non-conference play, had a chance to clear the puck from his own end while the Wolves were playing a man down. He swiped at it with one hand on his stick, missed, and Jon-Thomas MacDonald made it a costly error, ripping a wrist shot past Alex Dupuis for a 2-1 Guelph lead, an advantage they’d never surrender.
The Thunderwolves also couldn’t catch a break.
Dupuis, who saved 36 shots, made a Stretch Armstrong toe save on Andrew Bathgate, but instead of building on the momentum, they gave the puck back to the Gryphons and Cameron Odam fired a shot from just inside the blue-line that moved the mesh and Guelph took a 3-1 lead into the second period.
“Although we lost in the shootout (last night) we still felt we were going the right way coming into tonight’s game,” said Guelph coach Shawn Camp, a night after his team erased a 3-0 deficit in less than 20 minutes.
“It was real critical for us to try to continue to build on that momentum we had from the third period.”
Brandon Maxwell, who admitted he didn’t have his best game on Friday between the pipes for the Gryphons, easily made up for it on Saturday, stopping 43 Lakehead shots, 36 over the final two stanzas.
“I think I didn’t do my job to my full ability last night to help the team. I think we should have gotten two points last night. But tonight everybody played hard for 60 minutes and that’s why we got the win.”
Adam Sergerie scored first, punching it through Maxwell’s five-hole off a pinpoint feed in front from Matt Caria, the power play goal coming at 9:08 of the first.
But James Merrett tied it with about three minutes to go in the opener.
Nicklas Huard made it 4-1 at 12:10 of the third and Brett Appio outraced Mike Quesnele and scored into the empty net to finish things off for the third place Gryphons (12-6-2).
Claw marks: Lakehead forwards Ryan Magill (neck) and Andrew Wilkins (concussion) both sat out with injuries, joined on the sidelines by Brennan Menard and Trevor Gamache, who served the second of a two-game suspension ... For the second straight night the Wolves had a goal waved off. Carson Dubchak appeared to score in the second, but the goal fell victim to a quick whistle.
Scoring: 1. Lakehead, Sergerie 4 (Quesnele, Caria) 9:08 pp. 2. Guelph, Merrett 5 (Broussard, Appio) 16:58. Penalties: Quesnele LAK (unsportsmanlike conduct) 6:36, Huard GUE (hooking) 9:48, Teri GUE (slashing) 10:37.
Scoring: 3. Guelph, MacDonald (Lyall, Martine) 5:00 pp. 4. Guelph, Odam (MacDonald) 12:55. Penalties: Carrick LAK (tripping) 3:11, Grecica LAK (unsportsmanlike condcut), Dubchak LAK (roughing), Peroff GUE (tripping, unsportsmanlike conduct), Kusy (roughing) 10:46.
Scoring: 5. Guelph, Huard (Appio) 12:10. 6. Lakehead, Grecica (Quesnele, Judson) 15:27. 7. Guelph, Appio (Huaard, Martine) 19:31. Penalties: Broussard GUE (roughing), Maxwell GUE (unsportsmanlike conduct) 5:47, Dubchak LAK, Broussard GUE (roughing) 11:10, Huard GUE (roughing), Odam GUE (roughing, misconduct), Gilbert LAK (boarding), Sergerie LAK (roughing), Grondin LAK (roughing) 12:44.
GAME DATA – SOG – Guelph 16-14-11-41, Lakehead 9-19-17-45; Power plays (goals-chances) – Guelph (1-3), Lakehead (1-5); Goaltenders – Guelph: Brandon Maxwell, Lakehead: Alex Dupuis; A: 2,679.
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