The Laurier Brantford men’s extramural hockey team got their season underway on Halloween night in a 4-3 loss to Conestoga. It was their first exhibition game of the season, and was hard fought right to the end.
The first five minutes were fast paced and back and forth. Laurier, having not played together yet this year, were a little sloppy out of the gate defensively and Conestoga capitalized with a goal four minutes in. First year goalie, Ben Brenner made a huge save two minutes later to keep the game from getting away from them early. Two minutes later at 7:30 in the first period, on a Laurier power play, Michael Bondy buried a rebound to tie the game. The first period ended on a low note, as Conestoga scored a fluke goal on a pass that deflected off of a Laurier defensemen into the net to take the lead back 2-1.
The second period started off much the same, with end to end action topped off with a Conestoga goal on a snipe from the left hash marks. Laurier began to get into penalty trouble. At 7:17 into the period, killing off a slashing penalty, Laurier got caught in the neutral zone. Conestoga had a 2 on 0 break and scored a nice tic-tac toe-goal to go up 4-1.
This seemed to be the turning point for the rest of the game as Laurier found another gear. Thirty seconds later Kelen Herr passed the puck from behind the net to captain Andrew Pawluk who was all alone and buried it to get within two.
The last five minutes of the second saw a flurry of activity as the small, but loud, crowd got into it. Bondy and Pawluk took penalties ten seconds apart, giving Conestoga a two minute 5 on 3. Laurier’s defense was solid, not giving up any good chances.
The third period was dominated by Laurier. They had a 5 on 3 halfway through the third and got some good chances but could not score. The next six minutes were more of the same, with Laurier all over Conestoga but just not able to get that lucky bounce. At 19:12 in the third, Bondy finished a nice pass from behind the net to get within one. Laurier pulled Brenner for the last minute, but was not able to sustain control, and the game ended.
Dave Howe, a 3rd year student new to the team and one of their three captains, was pleased with their effort.
“We didn’t have much in the first, but we skated well and got better as the game went on and got our legs under us,” says Howe, “We really got going in the third and moved the puck well. It’s just the first game and with a couple more games and practices under our belt we’ll be good.”
But Howe says that the team needs to work on breaking out of the zone, and setting up some passes down low.
In just their second season in the OCAA, the team has a lot of returning players and a lot of potential. They especially like their chances with Brenner in net, who figures to be a key factor if the team is to have success this year. There are currently no more exhibition games scheduled, but the regular season is set to open with a tournament at Humber College on Nov. 23.