Laurier’s defense needs to improve after 6-6 tie vs. McMaster

“You should never tie a game or lose a game when you put up six,” says Michael Bondy of the Laurier Brantford extramural hockey team. But that was the story for Laurier as the team showcased their powerful offense in an exhibition game vs. McMaster University that ended in a 6-6 tie. The offense picked up right away in the first period with teams trading chances. Laurier kicked off the game with a two-on-one that was broken up by the McMaster defensemen, followed by another one with the shot going over the shoulder of the goalie. Laurier was able to score in the first period, though, when they put a goal in off of a rebound.

That goal was followed by some confusion mid-way though the first period when McMaster thought they scored a goal, but the referees allowed the play to continue. A couple minutes after the play was allowed to continue, Laurier appeared to score to put themselves up two-nothing. But the referees gathered and consulted with each other, ruling that McMaster did score and the clock was reset and the game ended up being tied 1-1.

McMaster then took a cross checking penalty in what was very eventful first period. Laurier then capitalized on the power play with a quick shot from the slot to put them up 2-1.  McMaster would then respond to tie the game at two. But with the period winding down, McMaster tripped Blake Dionne who was on a breakaway and Laurier was awarded a penalty shot with six seconds left in the period. Dionne would then score on the penalty shot and put Laurier up 3-2, with the first period winding down. Laurier was able to maintain good possession throughout the eventful first period.

The second period picked up right where the first left off: McMaster scored early in the period to tie the game back up at three. Then they would follow that up with another goal that beat the goalie high shoulder. McMaster would then give away the puck in the slot and Laurier was able to take advantage of the giveaway to tie the game up. About a minute after that Laurier goal they followed up with another one to put themselves up 5-4.

After that goal, action started to settle down, but, with five minutes left, Laurier added to their lead and scored to put themselves up 6-5. McMaster then would add another goal late in the second. A shot from just inside the blue line was able to beat the Laurier goalie five-hole. The second period ended with Laurier up six to five.

The third period didn’t feature the same amount of scoring as the first two periods, but had plenty of action throughout. Laurier was able to keep up their offensive pressure throughout the period and had a good three-on-two chance, but the McMaster goalie was able to make the save and keep them in the game. McMaster would then add a goal that would tie the game up at six. They would then take a cross checking penalty and give Laurier a great chance to take back the lead.

However, Laurier wasn’t able to turn that power play into anything. They struggled to get setup in the offensive zone for a majority of the power play and their one good chance was turned away by the McMaster goalie. Laurier after the power play continued their offensive pressure and pressed McMaster, but nothing came of it.

Laurier took a hooking penalty late in the third period, but McMaster wasn’t able to turn that chance into anything and the game ended in a 6-6 tie.

From an offensive standpoint Laurier was a juggernaut, but if they were to have the same success as last year they would have to play better from a defensive standpoint. After the game captain Dave Howe talked about tightening things up defensively. “We have a new group of guys out there and it’s just a matter of getting used to each other out there, but I think once everyone gets out there together and starts communicating that will clean things up.”

Defense will be the hardest thing for this group to work on. This year they have more forwards than defensemen meaning that some of the players are going to have to step back and play defense, which is tough transition for any player at any level to make. “We have a lot of guys out there that aren’t naturals at the positions so it’s going to take some time,” says Bondy, who is one of the players who moved back to defense.  There is a clear indication that this team needs to tighten things up defensively in order to repeat the success they had last year.

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