Needless to say, this is not the opening weekend Bill McDonald was looking for.
The University of Prince Edward Island Panthers scored the first five goals en route to a 7-1 beat down of the Thunderwolves in McDonald’s second game as Lakehead bench boss in CIS non-conference play at the Fort William Gardens on Saturday.
The new coach was disappointed with the example set by a crew of returning players.
“We made some huge, huge mental mistakes, and not by rookies either. They were by guys that have been here for a while," McDonald said immediately following the game.
“I’m not laying the blame on anybody, but some of the so-called veteran guys need to play better than they did (Saturday).”
The win gives the Atlantic squad a weekend sweep in their trip to Thunder Bay, as the Panthers outscored the Thunderwolves 11-2 over the two-game series.
The Panthers set the tone early in the contest, as they generated a flurry of quality chances that Lakehead netminder Justin McDonald was able to turn aside.
The floodgates opened at 11:51 of the opening frame as Jordan Mayer was able to sneak in unchecked from the blue line to tap a centring pass into a wide open net.
Nearly three minutes later Chris Desousa notched the Panthers’ second of the game, and Matt Branton scored his first of two goals on the game before the end of the period.
The visitors outshot Lakehead by a 17-8 margin in the opening frame as they were all over the Thunderwolves.
“They’re quick and they pressure you all the time," McDonald said of UPEI. "Not to make excuses, but you can tell they’ve played six games. It’s tough to swallow losing 4-1 and 7-1, but playing a team like this will hopefully help us down the road a little bit.”
Prince Edward Island put the game on ice with a pair of goals in the first three minutes of the period, as Branton potted his second of the contest and Brock Beukeboom tallied one of his own.
Those two resulted in the coach giving McDonald a reprieve as he was taken out of the line of fire and replaced by Jeff Bosch.
The coach was quick to deflect blame from his young goalie, who was making his university debut.
“McDonald held us in it. It could have been 5-0 early," he said.
"When I pulled McDonald it wasn’t because he was bad, it was more or less a mercy pull. I didn’t want to see a kid in his first game maybe get disheartened, because he didn’t play a bad game.”
For the second straight contest Mike Hammond provided the lone goal, as the junior forward buried a power-play marker in the second period. Assists were credited to defencemen Mike Quesnele and Mitch Fillman.
The Panthers added two more in the third, both by Dana Fraser to officially put on the rout.
There was a 10 minute stretch through the third period that got heated, as the teams combined to take 15 penalties and see three players tossed from the game.
One bright spot McDonald identified was his team's penalty kill that limited the Panthers to one goal on eight opportunities, but added that the team's power play leaves a lot to be desired.
Claw marks: McDonald said forward Carson Dubchak, who suffered a knee injury in Friday's contest, will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage...The Wolves hit the road to face the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Monday, before opening regular season play at home against the Royal Military College next weekend.
Scoring: 1. UPEI Mayer (Wilgosh, Traccitto) 11:51. 2. UPEI Desousa (Branton, Babineau) 14:40. 3. UPEI Branton (Desousa, Traccitto) 17:20. Penalties: D. Quesnele LAK (holding) 0:22; McIsaac UPEI (slashing) 10:36; Carrick LAK (boarding) 11:16
Scoring: 4. UPEI Branton (Desousa, Traccitto) 1:05. 5. UPEI Beukeboom (Mayer, Wilgosh) 2:52. 6. LAK Hammond (M. Quesnele, Fillman) (PP) 15:56. Penalties: Kaarela LAK (slashing) 3:42; Gamache LAK (tripping) 5:36; D. Quesnele LAK (slashing) 12:02; McQuaid UPEI (holding) 14:55; Wall UPEI (interference) 14:58; Beukeboom UPEI (tripping) 17:34.
Scoring: 7. UPEI Fraser (Ryckman) 3:16. 8. UPEI Fraser (Desousa, Traccitto) (PP) 8:22. Penalties: Gamache LAK (tripping, unsportsmanlike conduct) 5:30; D. Quesnele LAK (slashing) 6:35; Beck UPEI (boarding) 9:04; McNaughton UPEI (roughing), Hammond LAK (cross-checking), Carrick LAK (roughing) 9:49; Beukeboom UPEI (interference from the bench, game misconduct), Thompson LAK (roughing) 14:24; McNaughton UPEI, DeLory LAK (roughing, roughing, misconduct) 16:30.
GAME DATA - SOG - UPEI 17-10-11-40, Lakehead 8-12-9-29; Power plays (goals-chances): UPEI (1-8), Lakehead (1-5); Goaltenders - UPEI: Mavrick Parks, Lakehead: Justin McDonald, Jeff Bosch; A: 2,339.
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