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2014-02-22 at 21:56

Wolves advance

By Leith Dunick,
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The Lakehead Thunderwolves still had a game to give in the opening round of the OUA men’s hockey playoffs.

But with Canada playing Sweden for gold at the crack of dawn on Sunday, there was no way they wanted to skip watching history in the making to rest up for a decisive Game 3 in their opening round series against the York Lions.

Thanks to Kelin Ainsworth and a penalty kill that produced a pair of shorthanded tallies, the Wolves can watch the gold-medal game worry-free and head back to bed for the afternoon.

Ainsworth converted a second-period goal-mouth pass from Mike Hammond, beating Lions goalie Andrew Perugini just 23 seconds after Michael Santini scored the equalizer on Jeff Bosch, propelling the Wolves to a 5-2 win and a 2-0 best-of-three series sweep Saturday night at Fort William Gardens.

"I don't know how many guys will actually wake up at 7 a.m., we'll see who's that dedicated. But we're definitely happy we got it done tonight and we don't have to come back tomorrow," Ainsworth said.

David Quesnele, who also scored in the first, doubled the LU lead 68 seconds later, upping his playoff total to three.

It was a pretty good time to start to produce on a regular basis.

"Yeah, in the playoffs you have to try to elevate your game and do whatever you can to chip in. I got a couple of lucky bounces tonight. We were working hard, our line, with (Carson) Dubchak and Magill. The puck just kind of foud me, so it felt good," Quesnele said.

Ainsworth added there's no question the rapid-fire goals were the turning point, the Wolves out-scoring the Lions 2-1 in a second period that saw York outshoot Lakehead 17-6.

"That was nice to get the momentum back in our hands. It was important to score right away there because they had for sure kind of deflated us there," Ainsworth said. "Then Quesnele got another one for us. That was huge and after that I think we were pretty comfortable with the lead."

Ryan Magill, on a spin-a-rama at the side of the Lions net, and Andrew Wilkins, who picked the pocket of York’s Tyler Mort at centre ice and beat Perugini on the breakaway backhand, netted the shorthanded goals for the Thunderwolves, who await their second-round opponent.

It was the 10th and 11th shorthanded goals they Wolves have scored this season, the fifth for Magill who tops the nation in that category.

Bill MacDonald said his players are aggressive on the penalty kill, though he's not looking for them to cash in, just keep the puck out of their own net.

"All I tell them is that if it's a situation where you can go for it, go for it. But I don't want you to go for it if you've already been out there for a minute and 30 seconds and you get caught coming back," McDonald said.

"It's all up shift management."

It's also all about trust.

"They should know if they've got enough gas in their tank to get there and then if they don't score and something happens. You leave it in their hands and obviously it's worked out pretty well this year."

The Lions lone success on the power play came at 7:49 of the first, when Jordan Forfar bested Bosch after several of the York forward's teammates had take swipes at the loose puck in the crease area.

Lakehead will play Ryerson in the second round. 

Claw marks: The Thunderwolves announced the team’s Molson Cup winners for the season-long stars of the game competition. Junior forward Mike Hammond topped the standings, followed by rookie forward Cody Alcock and goaltender Jeff Bosch, despite missing much of the season’s first half ... Lakehead will open Round 2 of the playoffs Wednesday on the road. Game 2 will be Friday night at the Gardens, with Game 3, if necessary, to follow on Saturday.

: 1. Lakehead, D. Quesnele 2 (Dubchak, M. Quesnele) 1:25. 2. York, Forfar (DeGray, Messier) 7:49 pp. 3. Lakehead, Magill 1 (Wilkins) 14:28 sh. Penalties:  Alcock LAK (holding) 5:57, Restoule LAK (roughing), Cross YRK (holding) 11:31, Carrick LAK (roughing) 14:00, McGee YRK (tripping) 17:52.

Second period
: 4. York, Santini (Barss) 15:27. 5. Lakehead, Ainsworth 1 (Hammond, Carrick) 15:50. 6. Lakehead, Hammond 3 (Bruyere, Magill) 16:58. Penalties: DeGray YRK (interference) 5:26, Maw LAK (high sticking) 10:02, Tessier LAK (boarding) 17:47.

Third period
: 7. Lakehead, Wilkins 1 (unassisted) 10:12 sh. Penalties: Maw LAK (high sticking) 9:01, Grondin LAK (checking from behind, misconduct) 12:56,

GAME DATASOG – York 11-17-4-32, Lakehead 22-6-7-35; Power plays (goals-chances) – York (1-6), Lakehead (0-2); Goaltenders – York: Andrew Perugini, Lakehead: Jeff Bosch; A: 2,298.

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lonewolf9 says:
2,298 fans for a playoff game on a Saturday night with no other hockey on TV at all. Pathetic! Hey, let's have 2 teams play at the new Events Centre. Thunder Bay is a hockey town!
2/23/2014 9:40:18 PM
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