There was no Miracle on Miles Street for the York Lions on Saturday night.
Scott Dobben scored a pair of goals and added two assists, and surprise starter Alex Dupuis kicked aside 34 shots as the Lakehead Thunderwolves dispatched the Lions 6-2, taking the best-of-three OUA Western Conference quarterfinal 2-1.
Wanting to get off to a fast start, instead it was the rookie Dupuis who held the Wolves together in the opening five minutes. A pressing Lions team peppered him with six shots before Lakehead’s Andrew Wilkins finally drove one into Dave Davenport’s chest at the other end of the Fort William Gardens ice. He stopped them all.
Dupuis, making his first start since Jan. 9, said he’s played in big games before and has been ready all season to step in when coach Joel Scherban called. Saturday was no different, he said.
“Being a back-up goalie it’s been my role all year. I still practice with the team. I still give it my all every practice and I’ve got to be ready to step in,” the 20-year-old Thunder Bay native said. “(Kyle) Moir faltered and that’s just part of the job.”
Moir was yanked on Friday night after giving up three goals in less than nine minutes, with the Wolves facing elimination from the OUA playoffs and a five-week layoff before the start of the University Cup, which the Wolves will host for a second straight spring.
LU coach Joel Scherban said Dupuis has proven his worth in a back-up role, and he had no qualms starting him on Saturday – though knowing your team will be among the final six in the nation makes the decision a little easier.
“Every week you can see how he’s improving and how he’s developing. And as coaching staff we felt he was ready for this opportunity,” said Scherban, who claimed his first playoff series victory as a coach. “Without a doubt he was there when we needed him and he made the timely saves. He gave us an opportunity to get our legs going and the rest of our team going. He played very well in net.”
Staying alive in the playoffs is the top goal of all the players, Dupuis said, and taming the Lions was just the first step along the way.
“It definitely feels good, but we can’t lose focus. We still want to win the OUA championship, and now we’ve got to focus on the next series and be ready,” he said.
LU will take on Guelph in Round 2 and have home-ice advantage in the series. The Gryphons upset fourth seed Laurier, downing them 5-3 on Sunday in Game 3 of their OUA West quarterfinal. Game 1 between Lakehead and Guelph will be Wednesday in Guelph. Games 2 and 3, if necessary, will be next Friday and Saturday night at Fort William Gardens.
In the other OUA West semifinal it will be upstart Windsor taking on top-ranked Western. Thunder Bay's Kyle Tront scored in double overtime to give the Lancers a 3-2 Game 3 win over Waterloo, while Western ousted pesky UOIT, downing them 4-1 on Sunday.
Forward Mark Soares, who scored a goal and added two assists, helping to spark a two-goal second that put the game out of reach, said the series win came from a lot of effort at both ends of the ice.
“The guys work hard and we knew we had to get two wins, and we pulled it off,” said Soares, who will leave the team after four seasons when the University Cup is done. “We did a good job, I thought.”
With Dupuis setting the stage on defence, it was Dobben who sparked the offence in the first, taking a lead pass from Andy Hyvarinen and depositing it behind Davenport at 8:22 for a 1-0 LU lead.
York didn’t wait long to respond. MacKenzie Micks pounced on a huge rebound some three-and-a-half minutes later, sliding it into an open net to even the score at one apiece. But 26 seconds later it was Hyvarinen’s turn. Dobben took a shot from the slot, Hyvarinen grabbed the loose puck, put a move on Davenport and fired a backhander home, a goal that gave the Wolves the lead for good.
Dan Speer made it 3-1 three minutes into the second and Soares upped the LU lead to three with less than two minutes to go. York coach Jim Wells removed Davenport for the rest of the period, but he was back between the pipes to start the third.
The final period was pretty much academic.
Mickes potted his second at the 4:36 mark, but Jordan Smith, with his third in two nights, got that one back in a hurry, just 57 seconds later. Dobben finished things off at 7:46.
Should the Warriors and Western win on Sunday, the Wolves will host Waterloo on Wednesday, regardless of the outcome of the Laurier/Guelph series. Games 2 and 3 would be on the road. Should one of the aforementioned clubs be eliminated, Lakehead would gain home-ice advantage in the second round and would start the second round on the road, with Games 2 and 3 at the Gardens next weekend.
FIRST PERIOD Scoring: 1. Lakehead, Dobben 1 (A.Alphonso, Hyvarinen) 8:22. 2. York, Micks 1 (Brooks, Martello) 11:56 pp. 3. Lakehead, Hyvarinen 1 (Dobben, A. Alphonso) 12:22. Penalties: Restoule YRK (roughing), Soares LAK (holding) 10:01, Hogg LAK (hooking) 10:54.
THIRD PERIOD Scoring: 6. York, Micks 2 (Martello, Searle) 4:36. 7. Lakehead, Smith 3 (Soares, Speer) 5:33. 8. Lakehead, Dobben 2 (Baird) 7:46. Penalties: Hogg LAK (hooking) 11:16, Messier YRK (slashing) 11:56. Korte YRK (hooking) 14:44, Dias LAK (slashing, roughing), Searle YRK (roughing).
GAME DATA – SOG – York 13-8-15-36, Lakehead 11-7-12-30; Power plays (goals-chances): York (1-4), Lakehead (0-2); Goaltenders – York: Dave Davenport (20 shots, 16 saves), David Blair (18:26, second, four shots, four saves), Davenport (20:00, third, 12 shots, 10 saves), Lakehead: Alex Dupuis; A: 2,174.
A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
Dialogue and debate are integral to a free society and we welcome and encourage you to share your views on the issues of the day. We ask that you be respectful of others and their points of view, refrain from personal attacks and stay on topic. To learn about our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines.
Be the first to read breaking stories.Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.