THUNDER BAY – Bill McDonald was at a loss to describe Friday night’s 4-3 pre-season loss to the Concordia Stingers.
“It was a bizarre game, a dirty game,” McDonald said of the defeat.
“We’ve got a couple of guys with severe cuts. We’ve got one guy, Brennen Dubchak, with scrapes under his eyes because of eye gouging. It was a pretty nasty game.”
The accusations aside, it was a game the Thunderwolves well could have won against a tough opponent that finished a strong second in the OUA East last season.
After being out-shot 17-7 in the first, the Wolves out-shot the Stingers 34-15 the rest of the way. Unfortunately, McDonald said, they made too many mistakes in front of goaltender Nic Renyard, making his second start in three games.
“We had 42 shots, but the goals that they scored were cause by some miscues by us. Daniel del Paggio gave the puck away. Matt Alexander gave the puck away,” McDonald said.
“When you’re playing against a good team like this you’ve got to take the 40 shots, but you can’t shoot yourself in the foot by giving the softies.”
The Wolves and Stingers exited the first tied at a goal apiece.
Massimo Carozza struck first for Concordia on the power play just shy of the eight-minute mark and the lead stood for about seven minutes until Dylan Butler unleashed a shot as he was falling to his knees that slide through traffic in front and past Stingers goalie Marc-Antoine Turcotte.
Despite being on the wrong end of a 16-9 shot count in the second, it was Concordia that wound up scoring the only two tallies in the period.
Anthony Beauregard pounced on a Philippe Sanche rebound 51 seconds into the middle stanza, putting the Stingers up 2-1.
After Del Paggio rang one off the post and Turcotte robbed Dubchak with a toe save – he’d later hit a post of his own with 70 seconds to play in the second – Concordia added to its lead with 24 seconds left, Alexis Pepin completing a pinball-style goal that bounced around Renyard’s crease before finding the twine.
Philippe Hudon made it 4-1 8:26 into the third before the Wolves began a comeback in earnest thanks to rookie Scott Gall, who arrived in Thunder Bay after spending last season with Winkler of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Gall potted his first with Lakehead on a breakaway at 12:19, then followed with his second of the night, stuffing it through Turcotte, the Wolves trailing by a goal.
“We definitely battled hard all game and I thought we controlled the majority of the game,” said Gall, who had a chance to tie the contest in the final two minutes with Renyard on the bench but couldn’t find an opening.
“I think, really by the shots it showed we definitely had our chances."
Claw marks: Alexander left the game in the third after a heavy hit. He required seven stitches and had ice on his right shoulder after the game … Attendance was 1,741.
Scoring: 1. Concordia, Carozza (Hudon, Gosselin) 7:49 pp. 2. Lakehead, Butler (Ringuette, Dubchak) 15:23. Penalties: Murphy LAK (holding) 5:55, Lafontaine CON (boarding) 13:23.
Scoring: 3. Concordia, Beauregard, (Sanche, Neill) 0:51. 4. Concordia, Pepin (Sanche, Bauregard) 19:36 pp. Penalties: Sanche CON (slashing) 4:34, Taillefer CON (high sticking) 8:19, Wolframe, roughing, 15:35, Leonidas LAK (checking to the head) 18:50.
Scoring: 6. Lakehead, Gall (A. McDonald, Leonidas) 12:19. 7. Lakehead, Gall (Ringuette, Butler) 14:26. Penalties: Laframboise LAK (slashing, misconduct) 10:18, Beauregard CON (hooking) 14:46.
GAME DATA – SOG – Concordia 17-9-6-32, Lakehead 7-16-18-41; Power plays (goals-chances) – Concordia (2-4), Lakehead (1-4); Goaltenders – Concordia: Marc-Antoine Turcotte, Lakehead: Nic Renyard; A: 1,741 (paid).