The Laurier Brantford men’s extramural team took part in their first ever Challenge Cup this past season. Despite facing some ups and downs over the course of their schedule, the guys were able to pull it all together at the right time and bring home the Challenge Cup and earn the title of OCAA (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) champions.
The tournament started off with the Golden Hawks taking on Flemming College, based out of Peterborough. The Hawks would take with game with a solid 2-0 shutout victory. Up next for the boys was a game against St. Lawrence College, who at the time were the top rated team in the tournament.
With that game tied 1-1 after three periods, it was time for a shootout. The Hawks would go on to eventually win the game by a score of 2-1, taking out the top seed in the process. The guys would use that momentum in their next game against Sault College. They took an early lead, but Sault came back in the third. It took a late goal by Laurier captain Dave Howe to secure the win and send the boys into the semi-finals.
The semi-finals came on fast and Laurier continued to ride high on their wave of momentum as they scored four goals and shutout their opponents from Trent.
The finals were played between Laurier and Seneca College. The Hawks came flying out of the gate and score a goal right at the beginning of the game. A goal in each of the final two periods would secure a Hawks victory and their first ever Challenge Cup. The Golden Hawks men’s hockey team is the first squad from Laurier Brantford to be crowned champions of this tournament.
There were many players on the roster that should pointed out and will be key if the boys want to make a run at defending their title. Captain Dave Howe scored some clutch goals for the team, and assistant captain Andrew Pawluk played incredible hockey in each of the five games.
Goalie Ben Brenner was also highly praised by Howe who said, “Brenner stuck out this tournament as usual, it’s tough to not show respect for a kid who gets three shutouts in the Provincials.” Brenner’s excellent play resulted in the team getting shutout wins in three of their five games in this tournament.
The Hawks head into next season with some big shoes to fill. They are the defending tournament champions and will lose many of their veteran players this off-season. Players such as Kelan Herr, Dylan Parnell, Andrew Pawluk and Tanner Rutland will be greatly missed by the Hawks squad. They each brought a lot of unique things to this team that will now have some holes to fill.
Returning player Blake Ralston said despite this, the boys will need to pull together and play their absolute best to defend their right to call themselves the champions. “We are losing a lot of the older players who made up the backbone of the team. Despite this, there is a lot of good young talent that can come up and fill the gaps admirably.”
The Hawks will be a younger squad this coming year. New leaders will rise and new talent is waiting in the wings. The Golden Hawks team taking to the ice will be new and different, but will be determined to defend their championship title.