Nathan Bruyere may be a rookie, but he’s got an Al MacInnis-like slapshot.
It was on full display in the third period Saturday night.
The Eagle Lake, Ont. native blasted a high hard one past Laurier goalie Vinny Merante, the tally edging the Thunderwolves in front of the winless Golden Hawks for good as LU went on to win 4-2 in front of 2,313 fans at Fort William Gardens.
Ryan Magill netted what proved to be the winner four minutes later with the Wolves shorthanded. But it was Bruyere’s shot that had everyone talking.
A graduate of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s OCN Blizzard, Bruyere grew up spending every available minute on the ice at his hometown rink.
It’s there he perfected his shot.
“Growing up in a small community like Eagle Lake, you don’t have much to do. We had open ice all through when I was growing up,” Bruyere said. “After school I’d go down and shoot pucks all evening until my mom wanted me to come home. That’s what I did as a kid.”
Getting that first CIS goal was a pretty special moment, he added.
“It’s a relief. I wanted to score a goal my first game, but as the season progressed I just kept getting better and kept putting pucks through,” he said.
Lakehead coach Bill McDonald said now that the first one’s been recorded, he expects it might become a bit of a trend.
“I think Bruyere might get a couple more, because he can bomb it,” McDonald said. “I don’t what happened just before that, if it went off the crossbar and he got it back, but he can smoke it.
“The kid’s a good player. He makes a lot of rookie mistakes, but I tell you what … he’s got a real good future in hockey.”
McDonald also liked seeing plenty of secondary scoring, a night after second-liner Cody Alcock broke out with a four goal game.
Magill had yet to score in five games heading into Saturday’s contest, registering a single assist in OUA play.
He jumped on a Kelin Ainsworth rebound and ripped it into the net, just the eighth regular-season goal he’s scored in three-plus seasons.
The Thunderwolves (5-1-0) will need more of that going forward in an OUA West boasting five teams with one or fewer losses three weekends in.
Justin McDonald, who captured his fifth win of the season in relief of injured goalie Jeff Bosch, was also strong, making 29 saves to earn second star honours.
“McDonald again held us in there, made some good saves. The guys are loving each other. That happens when you win. We’re going to go through some adversity yet, but it’s good to have a good start with these guys. Obviously we need the points.”
Laurier’s Derek Schoenmakers broke a scoreless tie 1:38 into the second, completing a 2-on-1 play that Justin McDonald had little chance to stop.
Bruyere had a big hand in the equalizer, blasting a shot from the point. Jake Carrick pounced on the rebound and back-handed it home, sending the two teams to the break tied 1-1.
Bruyere and Magill scored four minutes apart for the 3-1 lead, but like the night before, the Golden Hawks held tight, Tyler Stothers closing the gap to one just 34 seconds after Magill’s shorthanded effort.
Laurier coach and Thunder Bay native Greg Puhalski said he thought his side deserved a better fate than heading home with a goose egg.
“It is what it is. Generally we didn’t play that bad hockey. They were both close hockey games and I think it’s going to be indicative for most teams in the league,” he said.
“You play to win and we’re just not doing the things we need to do as far as getting timely goal scoring or getting a big save at the right time.”
Mike Quesnele iced it with an empty netter at 19:43.
Claw marks: Lakehead will host No. 1 Alberta next weekend in non-conference play at the Gardens.
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