THUNDER BAY – Persistence pays off.
Twice down a goal to the Concordia Stingers on Saturday night, the Lakehead Thunderwolves twice found the equalizer and then completed the comeback in double-overtime, Daniel Del Paggio thrilling the Fort William Gardens crowd with a bullet that ripped past goaltender Antoine Dagenais to send the Wolves into the OUA regular season with a 3-2 victory.
Defenceman Patrick Murphy sent the game to overtime with goaltender Devin Green planted on the bench, scoring the game-tying goal a second into the final minute of regulation.
Del Paggio was just happy to have caught back up to the play.
“I don’t know if I fell or what, but I was kind of late in the zone,” said Del Paggio, explaining how the play developed, his linemates Billy Jenkins and Joseph Leonidas already deep in Stingers territory.
“They were already up and I was coming for a change and I noticed (Concordia) only had two guys on the ice and were struggling to make a change. I just skated as fast as I could and Jenks made a great pass to me. I just tried to get it on net as fast as I could and luckily it went five-hole.”
It’s just the type of win the team needed to wrap up non-conference action, the regular season set to begin next week on the road against Laurier.
“That was a huge game. The last game kind of took the wind out of our sails. We thought we had a really good game and out-chanced them as well,” the 21-year-old Del Paggio said. “We were down late and we showed resilience coming back. It’s just a huge win for us going into the regular season.”
Murphy said his goal came together as planned, the Thunderwolves trailing 2-1 on the power play, a minute or so left to go in regulation, his team in danger of dropping its third straight game.
“We called a timeout and that’s exactly what we drew up,” the sophomore defenceman said. “We wanted me coming down the boards like that, throwing it to the net and everyone just crashing because we felt that’s where we got most of our chances tonight, from crashing the net.
“I don’t even know how it found its way in, but thankfully it took a couple of bounces and got in there.”
Concordia’s Massimo Carozzo scored the lone goal of the opening period, beating Devin Green at the 5:45 mark, finding himself alone at the side of the Lakehead net with a loose puck sliding across the crease, daring him to push it home.
The teams traded chances in the second, the best two belonging to the Stingers. Anthony Beauregard hit the post, then in the final two minutes Green stopped Philippe Hudon on a breakaway.
Neither side would score again until the third, when Thunderwolves forward E.J. Faust banged one home from a similar spot just 19 seconds into the period.
Midway through the third the Wolves were handed a two-minute, two-man advantage, but failed to connect, Jenkins fanning on a shot to a wide open Concordia net. Beauregard then struck on the power play with 4:08 to go, snagging a rebound and burying it behind Green.
Dylan Butler had the best chance in the first overtime, ringing a shot off the crossbar that redirected out of harm’s way.
“It was an emotional game and a real good game I thought,” said LU’s fifth-year coach Bill McDonald.
Green made 31 stops, while Dagenais had a 44-save performance for Concordia.
Scoring: 1. Concordia, Carozza (Sanche, Charbonneau) 5:45. Penalties: None.
Scoring: None. Penalties: Hudon CON (slashing) 3:04, Taillefer CON (holding) 10:20, Gingras LAK (tripping) 16:22.
Scoring: 2. Lakehead, Faust (Masters) 0:19. 3. Concordia, Beauregard (Hudon, Sanche) 15:52 pp. 4. Lakehead, Murphy (Butler, Dubchak) 19:01 pp. Penalties: A. McDonald LAK (boarding) 1:59, Pepin CON (roughing), Ringuette LAK (cross checking) 2:52, Hudon CON (roughing) 3:59, Carozzo CON (cross checking) 5:28, Pepin CON (unsportsmanlike conduct), Legare CON (interference) 11:17, Whitlock LAK (slashing) 14:45, Legare CON (roughing) 17:10.
Scoring: None Penalties: None.
Scoring: 5. Lakehead, Del Paggio (Jenkins, Leonidas) 1:14: Penalties: None.
GAME DATA – SOG – Concordia 13-8-9-3-0-33, Lakehead, 11-15-18-2-1-47; Power plays (goals-chances) – Concordia (1-2), Lakehead (1-7); Goaltenders – Concordia: Antoine Dagenais, Lakehead: Devin Green; A: 1,823 (paid).