THUNDER BAY – The goaltending was great, but the goals just didn’t materialize.
Devin Green stopped 35 of 37 shots he faced on Saturday night, but the Lakehead Thunderwolves struggled at the other end of the rink, only putting a single puck past UOIT Ridgebacks goaltender Tyson Teichmann and had to settle for a weekend split after falling 3-1 at Fort William Gardens.
“I thought I played well,” Green said, after making his pre-season debut. “I was seeing the puck well, I was tracking it well. But that also comes from the guys in front of me. They were doing their jobs clearing pucks in front of the net and keeping the shots to the outside.”
Green’s performance gives the coaching staff plenty to think about.
Coming on the heels of first-year netminder Nic Renyard’s season-opening shutout on Friday night, there could be a goaltending battle brewing, with veteran returnee Justin McDonald still in the mix.
Green’s all for it.
“I think it’s good for all three of us. Practices are tough. We’re not only competing with each other, we’re making our players better,” he said. “We’re just constantly raising the bar in the net and for the players.
“I think, like they say, competition brings the best out of people, so whatever happens, happens from here on out.”
Rookie forward Josh Laframboise, who potted his first in a Thunderwolves uniform in the second to tie the game 1-1, liked what he saw from Green on the second night of the season.
“He’s a great goaltender. I haven’t played with goaltenders who are as good as the three we have. Anyone can play on any night. They can steal us a game if we need it. We’ve got to play good enough in front of him, but at the end of the day you know he can make some saves for us and it’s awesome we have those three goaltenders.”
With the goaltending seemingly in good hands, Lakehead coach Bill McDonald turned his attention to the offence, which needs a little work if Saturday’s performance is a true indication.
“I think the offence lacked a little bit of energy, I thought,” McDonald said. “The first period was back and forth, there wasn’t much happening. The second period, with the penalties, there was just no flow. It was hard to get guys in. We had a five-on-three to kill, a couple of power plays for us and it just seemed like a no-flow period.”
In total, 53 minutes in penalties were called in the second, including a check to the head major that led to the ejection of UOIT’s Danny Elser and a five-minute power play for the Thunderwolves.
Unfortunately they came up empty.
Ben Blasko had put UOIT on top 1:45 into the period, banging home a slow moving puck sitting at Green’s feet.
After Laframboise tied it up on a scramble in front of Teichmann, it took just 37 seconds for the Ridgebacks to go back on top for good, Josh Carrick roofing a wrist shot past Green for a 2-1 UOIT lead.
Carrick is the younger brother for former Thunderwolves forward Jake Carrick, who played four years in Thunder Bay before graduating in 2015.
Jack Patterson sealed with an empty-netter in the final minute of the third.
Lakehead returns to non-conference action next Friday night at home against Concordia.
Scoring: None Penalties: Valiquette LAK (hooking) 7:42, Roberts UOIT (cross checking), Jenkins LAK (roughing) 14:08, Jarvis UOIT (cross checking) 19:02, Del Paggio LAK (slashing) 20:00.
Scoring: 1. UOIT, Blasko (Roy, Locke) 1:45 pp. 2. Lakehead, Laframboise (Murphy) 11:33 pp. 3. UOIT, Carrick (Latina, Roy) Penalties: Elser UOIT (checking to the head major, game misconduct), White UOIT, Whitlock LAK (roughing after the whistle) 3:13, Butler LAK (tripping) 7:27, Yuill UOIT (holding) 10:02, Wesley-Chisel LAK (cross checking) 14:05, Jenkins LAK (hooking) 15:11, Carrick UOIT (tripping), Latina UOIT (misconduct) Leitch LAK (roughing, misconduct) 18:30, Laframboise LAK (interference) 18:57.
Scoring: 4. UOIT, Patterson (Yuill, Blasko) 19:06 en. Penalties: None.
GAME DATA – SOG – UOIT 7-14-17-8, Lakehead 6-9-8-23; Power plays (goals-chances) – UOIT (1-6), Lakehead (1-4); Goaltenders – UOIT: Taylor Teichmann, Lakehead: Devin Green; A: 2,353.