The Thunderwolves are moving on to the OUA West final for the first time since 2010.
Luckily it looks like they won’t have to do it without the services of No. 1 goalie Jeff Bosch. The fourth-year netminder, who extended his shutout string to 111:30 before the Ryerson Rams finally solved him in on the power play in the second period, five minutes later went down in a heap under goal scorer Jamie Wise.
He needed help to the bench, and did not return.
Rookie Justin McDonald filled in admirably, blanking the Rams on 13 shots the rest of the way to secure the 4-1 win and the 2-0, best-of-three series sweep.
Mike Quesnele, who scored 13 seconds after Wise was tossed for goaltender interference, had a pair of goals to pace the LU attack. Red-hot forward Cody Alcock continued his torrid pace, scoring his sixth of the post-season and adding three assists for a second-consecutive four-point night.
"I think Bosch will be all right," said Alcock, author of nine playoff points in four appearances. "He's a pretty tough lad. But you never want to see your goalie go down like that and the ref made the right call and we got a power play off of it."
Alcock had high praise for the Wolves freshman back-up, adding the team has full faith in the rookie.
"He stepped in and he stood on his head for us too. It's really nice when you can depend on both your goalies. Bosch was playing unbelievable and it's unfortunate what happened, but hopefully he recovers. And if he doesn't for a couple of games, we have (McDonald) who can stand on his head too," Alcock said.
Lakehead coach Bill McDonald said Bosch will be re-evaluated on Saturday, though he doesn't think the injury is as serious as the one that cost him a chunk of the first half.
Still, it was a frightening few seconds.
"I said, 'Let's go Mac. He went in and you saw a couple of the saves he made and that's what he's all about. Let's not be fooled. Jeff Bosch is our No. 1, but what happened at the beginning of the year, when this kid came in and played, he just gave the whole team confidence," Bill McDonald said.
It was business as usual for the replacement goaltender.
"It was tough coming in right away. But I always stay ready, just in case. You never want anything bad to happen like happened earlier," Justin McDonald said. "But you've got to be ready and I was ready. I came in and had to make a couple of quick saves right off the start. But after that the team rallied, played good in the game and it definitely helped me with my game."
Wilkins opened the scoring 3:29 into the first, pounding home an Alcock rebound for the early 1-0 lead. Quesnele doubled it at the 9:40 mark on a sharp wrist shot from the slot. The Rams fought back on the power play in the second, but two minutes later Alcock restored LU's two-goal lead and then Quesnele's second crushed any comeback dreams the Rams, their backs to the elimination wall, might have had.
Jake Carrick, on the backhand, wrapped up the scoring 1:18 into the final stanza.
Claw marks: Olympic gold-medalist Haley Irwin dropped the ceremonial first puck between Ryerson captain Andrew Buck and Lakehead’s Andrew Wilkins ... The last time Lakehead advanced to the third round of the post-season they faced Western in the OUA final, sweeping them in two straight.
Scoring: 1. Lakehead, Wilkins 2 (Alcock) 3:29. 2. Lakehead, M. Quesnele 1 (Alcock) 9:40. Penalties: Woodyat RYE (roughing) 12:00, Alberga RYE (high sticking) 14:45, Ainsworth LAK (slashing) 16:23, Birkhoff RYE (tripping) 6:43
Scoring: 3. Ryerson, Wise (Birkhoff) 6:57 pp. 4. Lakehead, Alcock 6 (Wilkins) 8:56. 5. Lakehead, M. Quesnele (Hammond, Alcock) 12:32 pp. Penalties: Dubchak LAK (cross checking) 5:48, Ryerson bench (too many men, served by Buck) 9:53, Wise RYE (goaltender interference) 12:19, Grondin LAK (checking from behind, misconduct, served by Kaarela) 12:47, Carrick LAK, McDonough RYE (unsportsmanlike conduct) 17:18, Restoule LAK (boarding) 19:06.
Scoring: 6. Lakehead, Carrick 1 (Hammond, Ainsworth) 1:18. Penalties: Maw LAK (interference) 6:57, Terreri RYE (roughing), Wise RYE (misconduct) 7:23, Bruyere LAK (slashing) 14:57.
GAME DATA – SOG – Ryerson 5-16-7-28, Lakehead 11-14-9-35; Power plays (goals-chances) – Ryerson (1-6), Lakehead (1-6); Goaltenders – Ryerson: Troy Passingham, Lakehead: Jeff Bosch; A: 2,838.
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