Lakehead Thunderwolves Mens Hockey
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2/18/2009: WATERLOO - 4 @ LAKEHEAD - 5 OT


Mike St. Jean w/Mike Aylward
Thursday, February 19, 2009

Everybody knew that the first round OUA playoff series between the Lakehead Thunderwolves and Waterloo Warriors would provide fans with close, exciting hockey, however, not many experts would have predicted exactly how close and exciting the opening game of the series ended up being at the Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay.  Video Game Report    Jordan Smith CBC Radio Interview

To watch a video of the Molson's Three Stars Trophy presentation; CLICK HERE

Wednesday’s game, the first of the best-of-three playoff series between the two teams, saw the Wolves narrowly defeat the Warriors 5-4 in the second overtime period in a game that featured hard hits, end-to-end rushes, and great goaltending to match the equally impressive scoring opportunities.

With the win, the Thunderwolves take a 1-0 lead in the series, putting the Warriors in the tough position of winning the next two games in the best-of-three series in order to continue their quest for the Queen’s Cup.

Lakehead’s offense broke the deadlock midway through the first, with junior forward, and the team’s regular season leading scorer, Brock McPherson beating Waterloo netminder Pier Pelletier on the powerplay. Midway through the second, McPherson struck again, giving the Thunderwolves a 2-0 lead on a goal assisted by defenseman Andy Zulyniak and forward Dan Speer, who also assisted on McPherson’s first tally.  McPherson played a fantastic game notching two goals and two assists as well as being strong on the faceoffs, corner play, and specialty teams.

The Warriors were unable to get much going offensively in the first, with the Thunderwolves out-shooting their counterparts by a margin of 17-2 through one. If not for the sensational play of Pelletier between the pipes, the game surely could have been lost early on for Waterloo.

Midway through the second, the Warriors began to take control of the play, first beating Lakehead goaltender Chris Whitley on the powerplay goal scored by captain Jordan Brenner, then, just 1:01 later, senior forward Dave Philpott would convert on a shot assisted by Brandon Mulholland and Mark Hartman, evening the score at 2-2 with one period left in regulation.

The third period opened with Waterloo continuing their dominance, as sophomore sensation Chris Ray beat Whitley with a laser of a shot just 6:26 into the frame, giving the team their first lead of the game. Mulholland would pick up his 2nd assist of the game on the goal, while forward Sean Roche would nab the other helper.

Less than three minutes later, Lakehead captain Andrew Brown evened the game up at 3-3, ripping a shot top-shelf past the Waterloo goalie just 6 seconds after leaving the penalty box. Thunder Bay native Andy Hyvarinen, playing in his first playoff game for the Wolves, would give the team a 4-3 advantage less than a minute later, with assists going to McPherson and junior forward Mark Soares.

With 1:57 remaining in the game, Brenner was sent to the box for a 2-minute infraction, seemingly giving the Wolves a victory as they would have a man advantage until the end of the game; if they did not score before then. However, with just 9.6 seconds remaining in regulation, senior forward Doug Spooner burned the Wolves with a shorthanded goal to tie the game up at 4-4, bringing the contest into overtime.

Neither team was able to break the deadlock in the first 10-minute overtime period, however, a scary moment occurred on the ice. Warriors forward Sean Roche, who was chasing the puck behind the net, was up-ended, leaving the Warrior player lying motionless on the ice for some time. After a lengthy delay, Roche was taken from the arena on a stretcher to the hospital in Thunder Bay. 

The Wolves were given several good scoring chances in the first 20 minute overtime, including a Mark Soares penalty shot stopped by Pelletier, as well as 5-on-3 power play in which the Waterloo keeper stood his ground and kept the scored knotted at 4-4.

Unfortunately for Pelletier, the Warriors couldn’t contain the Wolves forever, and sophomore defenseman Ryan Baird was able to finally end the game 14:05 into the second overtime by knocking home a Brock McPherson rebound. With the assist on the game winning goal, McPherson finished the game with 2 goals and 2 assists to his credit, showing how dynamic the big forward is offensively for the Thunderwolves.

Lakehead goaltender Chris Whitley made 39 saves in the contest, including stopping several key scoring chances to keep his team in the game. Across the rink, Pelletier stopped 56 shots that came his way, standing on his head for much of the game and doing almost everything a goaltender could be expected to do.

Wolves forward Dan Speer, who is usually called upon in tough situations due to his talented playmaking ability, left the game early due to illness. The team will no doubt be hoping he can return for the rest of the series to help bolster their talented offensive unit.

The Thunderwolves powerplay went 1-11 in the game, while Waterloo bettered that mark with a 1-7 record when up a man.

Lakehead Head Coach Don McKee said it was a very hard earned win.  “Well it was definitely a battle right from the drop of the first puck and I think we controlled the first period but couldn’t finish.  Full credit goes to Waterloo as they fought hard and came back twice to tie the game.  Whitley made some big saves for us tonight and Pelletier was unbelievable for them.  We felt confident that we could out-skate them in the overtime and Ryan Baird got a big goal for himself that I’m sure he’ll remember for a long time.”

The Molson's Three Stars were:
1) Lakehead: Ryan Baird
2) Lakehead: Chris Whitley
3) Waterloo: Pier Pelletier

The two teams face off again Saturday night in Waterloo for Game 2 of the best-of-three series and face is 7:30 pm EST.  Game 3, if necessary, goes Sunday night at 7:30 pm EST in Waterloo.  The game(s) in Waterloo will be broadcast live on Rock94 FM in Thunder Bay and online at with Bryan Wyatt calling all the action. 

Waterloo Athletics will also be doing an audiocast of the game(s) live at

For Full Game Summary: CLICK HERE

1. 09:54 Lakehead, Brock McPherson (Dan Speer, Mark Soares) PP
Penalties: 09:38 Waterloo, S.Moir (HLD-ST)15:05 Lakehead, Kris Hogg (HS)16:05 Lakehead, Jordan Smith (HKG)16:05 Waterloo, Spooner (HLD)16:34 Waterloo, Brenner (HKG)
2. 07:09 Lakehead, Brock McPherson (Dan Speer, Andy Zulyniak ) 3. 12:39 Waterloo, Brenner (Sonneburg , Hart ) PP 4. 13:40 Waterloo, Philpot (Hartman , Mulholland )
Penalties: 00:18 Waterloo, Schwende (HKG)03:50 Lakehead, Dan Speer (HKG)10:26 Waterloo, Hart (INT)12:06 Lakehead, Kris Hogg (CC)18:04 Lakehead, Richard Molenaar (HKG)
5. 06:26 Waterloo, Ray (Roche , Mulholland ) 6. 08:12 Lakehead, Andrew Brown (Scott Dobben, Jordan Smith ) 7. 10:10 Lakehead, Andy Hyvarinen (Brock McPherson, Mark Soares) 8. 19:51 Waterloo, Spooner (Whitely ) SH
Penalties: 02:33 Waterloo, Edgeworth (INT)02:54 Waterloo, Dileo (RO)04:48 Waterloo, Bench Minor (TMM)06:06 Lakehead, Andrew Brown (HLD-ST)12:16 Lakehead, Arron Alphonso (Double Minor HS)18:03 Waterloo, Brenner (INT)
9. 14:05 Lakehead, Ryan Baird (Brock McPherson)
Penalties: 05:00 Waterloo, Brenner (TR)06:10 Waterloo, Edgeworth (HKG)06:26 Waterloo, Ray (TR)
Lakehead: Chris Whitley, 39 saves made, 4 goals against.Waterloo: Pelltier, 56 saves made, 5 goals against.Referees: A.Brewer (referee), K.Kuluski, N.Black,