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Wolves slam Patriotes

One more goal might have been too much for Fort William Gardens to handle.
Lakehead's rabid fans celebrate a 7-2 win over UQTR at the Cavendish Cup on Friday night. (Leith Dunick)

One more goal might have been too much for Fort William Gardens to handle.

The venerable old barn was nearly shaken from its foundation on Friday night, thanks to a seven-goal attack that vaulted the Lakehead Thunderwolves into a winner-takes-it-all round robin finale against the top-seeded University of Alberta on Saturday night.

There was no miracle comeback on this night for the UQTR Patriotes, who stumbled into the land of the eliminated, falling 7-2 in front of nearly 3,000 rabid, raucous fans, all but a handful cheering on the hometown Thunderwolves.

Three goals in the opening period – more than they scored in two games at last year’s University Cup – set the tone for the high-flying Wolves, said graduating forward Scott Dobben, who assisted on all three tallies.

“We just wanted to come out strong,” the Drayton, Ont. native said. “We just tried to get things done early. We got a few bounces right off the start, and I think that’s something that we lacked against McGill. We just kept the ball rolling and found the back of the net. Everybody was going.”

Knowing they’ll need a repeat performance, or something close, playing on national television Saturday night against the Golden Bears, Dobben said regardless, they weren’t leaving anything in the tank in their national championship opener.

“You always want to keep the ball moving. You don’t want to stop. You don’t want to let up. I think we’re starting to click now and goals are going in, so guys will have that mentality going into tomorrow night’s game and as long as we get some shots early and go at them right away, I think things are going play out the same as tonight, hopefully,” said the Wolves assistant captain.

Unlike their Queen’s Cup loss to the now-ousted McGill Redmen, the Wolves were able to take the body to the Patriotes, fresh off a 4-2 loss Thursday night at the hands of the Golden Bears.

“Part of our game plan every night is to be a physical team. We feel that when we’re skating and playing physical, that’s when we’re at our best. It wasn’t just myself or the defence, I think everybody got in there. As (coach) Joel (Scherban) said, the forecheck was on tonight and the result, you saw on the scoreboard,” said captain Jordan Smith, who picked up an assist on Dan Speer’s second period goal, his second tally of the night.

Kris Hogg started the offensive rush, blasting a shorthanded slapshot from the left face-off circle that completely fooled UQTR goalie Jean-Christophe Blanchard at 7:06 of the first. Speer followed seven minutes later, and then on the power play Brock McPherson lifted one past Blanchard, giving LU a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

It was more of the same to start the second, with newcomer Matt Caria joining the scoring parade two minutes in, his first of two in the game, taking a pass from Shandor Alphonso and converting the odd-man advantage after corralling his own rebound off the stick of a UQTR defender.

Francis Charland, the Patriotes leading scorer, broke Alex Dupuis’ shutout bid at the five-minute mark, the lone power play goal UQTR would score in 10 opportunities.  Ryan McDonald responded in rapid fashion for the Wolves, potting one at 7:28 and Speer made it 6-1 less than two minutes after that to officially put the game away.

Felix Petit, with his second of the tournament, wound down a pitiful UQTR attack before the period ended and Caria wrapped up the scoring early in the third.

Blanchard said the Patriotes should have expected such a fast start.

“They came out strong. In the first period of a tournament like this it’s really important. My team didn’t come out strong and I think that was pretty tough. It was a hard game,” said the obviously disappointed netminder, who allowed all seven goals, facing 45 LU shots.

Lakehead coach Joel Scherban said he expects a tough challenge on Saturday against the Golden Bears, a team he last met as a player in the 2006 University Cup final, in a game the Wolves lost 3-2.

“Alberta is obviously a great team. Year after year they’re here. They’re an experienced team, a lot of high-end skill, very smooth skating, they move the puck well. We really need to be at our best tomorrow to beat them. We need to execute like we did tonight. We need the jump we had tonight,” said Scherban, who sat with former coach Pete Belliveau during the afternoon tilt, but said they talked anything and everything but hockey.

“We need to elevate our game to a level we haven’t played before,” he added.

How to do that is the $64,000 question. If Scherban had any secret answers, he wasn’t sharing.

“The game plan tomorrow is not going to change much from tonight. We’re going to do the same things. We’re going to focus on ourselves. Obviously there’s some stuff that we’ll go over with the players specific to Alberta, about their tendencies.”

The afternoon game between Manitoba and Saint Mary’s is scheduled for 2 p.m. The evening tilt between the Wolves and Golden Bears is a half-hour earlier than usual, at 7 p.m., to accommodate Rogers Sportsnet, which is televising the game.

Scoring: 1. Lakehead, Hogg 1 (Dobben) 7:06 sh. 2. Lakehead, Speer 1 (Dobben, Soares) 13:11. 3. Lakehead, McPherson 1 (Dobben) 15:40 pp. Penalties: Lamontagne UQTR (hooking) 2:39, Sagert LAK (slashing) 5:07, Maunu LAK (high sticking) 9:44, Hyvarinen LAK, Demers UQTR (unsportsmanlike conduct) 12:47, Petit UQTR (hooking) 14:53, Soares LAK (roughing after the whistle) 16:39.

Scoring: 4. Lakehead, Caria 1 (S. Alphonos, Dias) 2:08. 5. UQTR, Charland 1 (Bellevance-Martin, Breton) 5:00 pp. 6. Lakehead, McDonald 1 (Hogg, Wilkins) 7:28. 7. Lakehead, Speer 2 (Smith) 9:04. 8. UQTR, Petit 2 (Lessard, Chicoine) 12:33. Penalties: Donovan UQTR (cross checking) Hogg LAK (interference) 3:03, Dobben LAK (roughing) 3:56, Levesque UQTR (tripping) Demers UQTR (misconduct) 8:13, A. Alphonso LAK (goaltender interference) 11:02, Bellevance-Martin UQTR (illegal equipment) 12:06, LeBlanc UQTR (tripping) 13:25, Donovan UQTR (slashing) 15:07, Caria LAK (roughing) 18:23.

Scoring: 9. Lakehead, Caria 2 (Dias) 3:04. Penalties: Baird LAK (hooking) 0:50, Frechette UQTR (check to head, misconduct, served by Demers) 3:34, Caria LAK (roughing after the whistle) 5:07, Caria LAK (hooking) 9:09, McDonald LAK (hooking), LeBlanc  UQTR (diving) 13:46, Demers UQTR (high sticking) 14:29, Maunu LAK (holding) 17:21.

GAME DATASOG – UQTR 11-14-12-37, Lakehead 20-11-14-45; Power plays (goals-chances) – UQTR (1-10), Lakehead (2-7); Goaltenders: Jean-Christophe Blanchard, Lakehead: Alex Dupuis; A: 2,944.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

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
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