Hockey: UQTR, Lakehead down 1-0 in final series

A funny thing has happened to the OUA's two national hockey powers on their way to the University Cup.

The No. 3 Lakehead Thunderwolves and No. 5 Trois-Rivières Patriotes each find themselves down 1-0 in the best-of-3 conference finals after losing the openers last night.

The Brock Badgers edged Lakehead in Game 1 of the West final 3-2 last night by virtue of Matt Harpwood's goaltending. Granted, not having been there, perhaps Lakehead was pulling the old Junior B trick of playing possum on the road in order to get an extra home game. Lakehead doesn't lose at home often. They have already come back once in the playoffs by winning Games 2 and 3 at the forbidding Fort William Gardens in the last round vs. Laurier.

McGill, 4-1 winners on the road last night (just their fourth win in 19 post-season visits to Trois-Rivières Patriotes), will have home ice for Game 2 on Friday. Mathieu Poitras was solid in goal yet again, while UQTR's Sylvain Michaud was forced out of the game after taking a shot off the collarbone. In all honesty, McGill winning might not be a stunner, since Trois-Rivières seemed to get through the second round vs. Ottawa on talent alone.

The Redmen might be on the verge of something unprecedented. A win Friday would give them three straight 2-0 sweeps in the playoffs. Has that ever happened? It's only recently that the OUA made the conference final a best-of-3, plus McGill probably should not have had to play in the first round. They were clearly a superior team to Queen's, who got the No. 2 seed since it won a weak division. As an alum of the school, understandably it was great to see Queen's finish first, but in hindsight the reward should be proportional to the size of the accomplishment.
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  1. It is doubtful the Thunderwolves 'played possum', as that is not really the style of coach Don McKee. That said, I think it is this years edition of the Thunderwolves is way over-rated.

    The new year winning streak was largely the result of consecutive games against much weaker competition, and over the course of the season they haven't performed so well against the better teams.

    Regular season splits with Laurier and Brock. Early season nail-biter shootout wins against Western, non-conference losses to Alberta and the ultimate blunder (blowing a 4 goal lead) against Manitoba at the X-Mas TBayTel Cup Tournament provide all the signs one needs to understand that this club is not quite as good as the record suggests.

    I think Brock has a really good chance of knocking off the Wolves, but as you suggest it could be a tall task as the modern day Twolves have only lost one home play-off game in the last 6 years.

    Regardless of the results of this series, Lakehead has put together a good foundation for next year, and will be a serious threat for the 2009 National Championship in their home-town of Thunder Bay.

  2. The playing possum quote was meant to be tongue-in-cheek... obviously, no one would take that risk in such a short series.