Laurier men’s hockey team prepares for playoffs

After a strong regular season, the Golden Hawks look to continue their success, as they begin their playoff journey on home ice.

The team finished the regular season with a 15-9-4 record, good for third place in the Western conference, behind only the Ryerson Rams and York Lions. With the finish, they will face the Windsor Lancers in a best of three series, with games one and three being played at Laurier University.

The team came into the season after a 14-14-0 record, which put them in seventh place. While it wasn’t an awful season by any means, their season didn’t end well, as they were swept by one of their rivals, the Western Mustangs, in the first round, so the team looked to improve on their previous season.

It wasn’t an ideal start to the season either, as they started out their season going 3-4-1 in their first eight games. While they were performing well at home, with all three wins coming at home, it took the team until their ninth game of the season to finally win on the road, when they beat the rival Waterloo Warriors 5-1.

Following the win, they suffered an 8-4 blowout loss to the Brock Badgers for their first home loss of the season. However, the team learned from the loss, and went on a run that saw them go 6-2-3, and cement themselves as a competitive team. Amongst that stretch was a 2-1 win in Windsor, their upcoming playoff opponent.

After that hot stretch, the team dropped back to back games to Concordia and Guelph, but followed it up by winning their final five games of the season, including wins against Ryerson, who finished first in the conference, and Windsor 3-2 in their season finale.

Part of their success came from the dynamic duo of Andrew Fritsch and Derek Schoenmakers, who put up in 27 and 26 points in the team’s 28 games, although Schoenmakers only played 27. Schoenmakers led the team in goals with 13, while Fritsch had the lead in assists with 16. On the blueline, Mat Clutsam and Matt Franczyk led the way with 12 points each.

Relative to the rest of the league, Fritsch and Schoenmakers finished in the top 25, with Fritsch’s 27 points placing him in a tie for 22nd. While Schoenmakers’ 26 points had him in a tie for 24th. In the other scoring categories, Schoenmakers’ 13 goals would put him in a tie for 11th in the league, and Fritsch’s 16 assists tied him for 25th. As for Clutsam and Franczyk, their 12 points put them in a tie for 26th in defensemen scoring.

The team ran with three goalies during the season, with Colin Furlong, Vinny Merante, and Chris Festarini all getting a chance. They relied heavily on Colin Furlong, who played in 22 of the team’s 28 games, starting 20 of them. He had an excellent season, with a 12-9-0 record (tied for fourth in the league in wins), a 2.48 goals against average (10th in the league), and a .928 save percentage (fourth in the league). He also showed that he was a big part of the team, as he lead the league with 693 saves this season.

Team-wise, the Golden Hawks finished 11th in the league allowing three goals per game, while they were also very defensively sound, as their 2.83 goals against average was the ninth best. They also had a very good special teams unit, as their power play was the third best at 22 per cent, while their penalty kill was the tenth best with an 84.7 per cent success rate. They could also produce on the penalty kill, as their three shorthanded goals tied them for sixth in the league. Laurier was also a very disciplined team, as their 371 penalty minutes was the fourth fewest in the league.

The Golden Hawks playoff run begins on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 pm at Laurier, while they travel to Windsor for game two on Friday, Feb. 17, and return to Laurier (if necessary) on Saturday, Feb. 18, for game three at 2:00 pm. Both games at Laurier will be played at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.

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