The Lakehead Thunderwolves have one last chance to punch their ticket to the University Cup.
The Wolves travel to Ottawa on Saturday to take on the Carleton Ravens in the OUA bronze-medal game, the winner earning the sixth and final spot at next weekend’s national’s in Saskatoon.
LU forward Cody Alcock, who missed last Saturday’s 6-2 loss at the hands of the visiting Windsor Lancers that knocked the Thunderwolves out of the OUA playoffs, said the team is trying to put the two-game sweep behind them with so much at stake.
Second chances are great, said Alcock, promising he’ll be ready to play.
“For sure you want to be able to win your way there, which we still can. But we wanted to win the West, right? So I think a lot of the guys, especially the guys that are in their last year, are pretty bummed about the last series,” said the rookie forward, who sports eight goals and one assist in five playoff contests.
“At the same time, we’re lucky enough to have another shot again here, so I think the boys are pretty pumped that we’re still able to make it to nationals.”
It was the way the Thunderwolves lost that ushers in any doubts fans might have of their ability to hang with the OUA’s finest.
After cruising to a pair of two-game sweeps in the post-season’s opening two rounds, the Wolves ran into a roadblock in the Windsor Lancers.
The Lancers crushed the Wolves on home ice in Game 1, a 7-1 laugher. Then, after surrendering the first two goals when the series switched to Fort William Gardens on Saturday, scored six unanswered to skate into the Queen’s Cup final and an automatic berth at nationals with a 6-2 win.
Alcock said they’re trying to forget the losses and find their scoring touch again.
“I think it just comes with opportunity and shots on net. If we’re getting good opportunities and shots on net, what else can you do? The main thing is we take care of our defensive zone and help our (goaltenders) out there and don’t leave them out to dry,” he said.
The Ravens are coming off a 22-5-1 season that saw them capture their first OUA East regular season title and post the best record in the entire league.
But they were upended last weekend in a three-game heartbreaker by McGill, and will have to fight their way into nationals.
Carleton brings plenty of firepower to the table. The Ravens were the highest scoring team in the OUA this season, with 128 goals; they’re pretty good in their own end too, allowing just 67 goals in 28 games, the second fewest in the league behind Queen’s.
The Wolves, on the other hand, were middle of the pack in both categories.
Lakehead coach Bill McDonald says he’s seen the Ravens play a couple of times on film and there aren’t many weak spots in their game.
“They’ve got big forwards and they’re really good down low,” McDonald said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. I’m not lying to anybody or sugar-coating anything. We’re going to have to be on the top of our game to come away with that win.
“But I think if we do some things good and maybe generate some offence from the back end, maybe getting guys jumping in and being really good on the special teams, we can come away with a victory.”
Carleton coach Marty Johnson, quoted on the team’s website, said the Ravens, who won 13 of 14 regular-season games on home ice, are ready for action.
“I know that both teams are going to work extremely hard on Saturday night. It’s going to be up to the players to decide the outcome and a matter of executing a successful game plan,” Johnson said.
The game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. at the Carleton Ice House.
-- With files from Thunder Bay Television's Ryan Bonazzo.
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