OUA West Hockey: The rise of the Badgers, the recovery of the Gryphons, and Watt's Dayus all about?

Last week I was feeling pretty negative. Watching Guelph fail miserably against York just filled me with sadness. So I figured it was time to call them out.

This week, they swept the talented Lakehead Thunderwolves at home in what was a very solid defensive performance. I'm a little shocked, but thrilled to see them turn it around like that (they jumped from 17th to 8th in the RPI as a result). Maybe I'm a little upset that they proved me wrong. Either way, good for the Gryphons.

So in light of the good feelings I have toward the OUA at this moment, I felt it was time to celebrate this season for the Brock Badgers.

Last season, the Badgers finished dead last in the OUA West. Only RMC and Ottawa were worse in the entire province. That's bad.

They were awful offensively, with the lowest goal total in the West (only 62), and they couldn't keep the puck out of their net, giving up 104 in 28 games.

That was the low point in an ongoing trend for the Badgers. They have missed the playoffs in the two seasons after losing to McGill in the 2008 OUA championship game.

And if you expected more of the same this year, you could have been forgiven. This is a very young team. Including back-up goaltender Vince Cusick, there are nine rookies on this team.

Yet those rookies have jumped right in and set the Badgers back into the playoff mix. Matt Abercrombie (you may notice I mention him a lot), Kaine Geldart, and Jordan Gignac are three of the top four scorers on the team.

I will consistently argue that Abercrombie is the heart of the team - this weekend in particular (you'll see what I mean if you read on). He is crucial to their recent powerplay surge especially.

In fact, Abercrombie is 19th in OUA scoring. Not OUA West. The entire 19-team conference. He is also the top rookie in OUA West scoring (third in the conference behind Luc Blain and Kyle Ireland of Ottawa).

But he isn't the only reason they have already topped their goal total from last year with three games to spare. Half of their team has a double digit point total. It's not a spectacular statistic at this point in the season, but it's a drastic improvement on the six players that achieved the mark last year.

However, the ability to keep pucks out of the net has been their saving grace this year. Last season, their goaltending duo of Mark Yetman and Jordan Bent had save percentages of .893 and .872 respectively. They combined to average will over three goals a game.

Cusick and Kurt Jory have been significantly better, though don't read too much into Cusick's .938 save percentage, as he has only played 81 minutes this season.

But Jory, who came back from a horrific neck injury suffered in his promising rookie season at Brock two years ago, has been the star. So his .897 save percentage isn't great. But he has a goals against average of 2.92. For those keeping track, that's about the same rate that Brock scores per game.

In other words, as I have said once or twice before, when Jory plays well, Brock wins.

Luckily for Brock, Abercrombie and Jory have played well for a good portion of the season. Both have showed up to play in the last three games, leading Brock to a three-game win streak.

They are sitting in 5th in the West with an 11-8-6 record, just two points out of third. Not bad for a young team. I personally can't wait to see what they do next year.

Now if they could only figure out how to win in overtime.

Wednesday, January 26

Brock 4-3 Waterloo (SO)

Goal Scorers
Brock: Ryan Allen, Matt Abercrombie, Kevin Christmas (Shootout winner: Abercrombie)
Waterloo: Jarrett Schnurr, Tyler Moir, Josh Schappert

Brock: Kurt Jory - 31 saves
Waterloo: Keaton Hartigan - 21 saves

Players of the Game
  • Abercrombie does it again, scoring in regulation and the shootout winner. Oh, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... is contributing offensively. I need to work on these puns.
  • Schappert tied the game up midway through the third to earn his team a point.

Thursday, January 27

Laurier 2-0 Windsor

Goal Scorers
Laurier: Thomas Middup, Benjamin Skinner

Laurier: Ryan Daniels - 25 saves
Windsor: Frank Dayus - 38 saves
  • Windsor's offence didn't really come to play this weekend. But then again, most don't against Ryan Daniels.
  • Skinner ends the month of January with four goals and six points, surpassing his first half total already.
  • Frank Dayus surely would be a starter at the majority of the schools in the OUA. He just happens to be playing behind my pick for the best goalie in the conference. Seriously, Jim Watt is amazing.
Players of the Game
  • Daniels came up with his second shutout of the year, finishing the month giving up just over two goals a game.
  • Dayus stopped 38 of 40. That's nothing new for him. He has a season goals against average of 2.70 and a save percentage of .931.

Friday, January 28

Brock 5-4 York (SO)

Goal Scorers
Brock: Thomas Stajan, Derek Brochu, Matt Abercrombie, Josh Schram (Shootout winner: Brochu)
York: Adam Stuart, Mackenzie Micks, Jesse Grespan, Jaskirat Gill

Brock: Kurt Jory - 26 saves
York: Travis Rolheiser - 22 saves

Players of the Game
  • Brochu pulled an Abercrombie, scoring a goal and netting the only goal in the shootout for the two points.
  • This was Gill's second three-point game of the month. He has 10 points in January after putting up just three in the first half. He has been a big spark for York's offence.

Western 7-3 UOIT

Goal Scorers
Western: Jason Furlong (2), Chris Rocca, Steve Reese, Julian Cimadamore, Randy Hanagan, Brock Turner

UOIT: Kyle Wetering, Jeremy Whelan, Nathan Spaling

Western: Josh Unice - 30 saves
UOIT: Jason Guy - 21 saves, 4 GA, Jeff Dawson - 5 saves, 3 GA
  • I said last week that Western would need to find some secondary scoring to offset the losses of Turkiewicz, Baker, et al. They managed that in spades, with six different goalscorers, with Hanagan and Turner each getting their first of the season.
  • Unice has filled the role they needed him to fill last year. He is technically the backup to Anthony Grieco, but they really should be goalies 1 and 1a. He has been superb all season.
  • UOIT put up a good fight after going down 4-0. But you just can't overcome deficits like that against a team like Western (unless, of course, you are UQTR and there is a minute and 31 seconds left in the OUA bronze medal game).
Players of the Game
  • Assistant captain Jason Furlong put the team on his back early, getting three points on the first four goals.
  • Whelan had two points, including his fifth goal of the season.

Guelph 2-1 Lakehead

Goal Scorers
Guelph: Justin Gvora, Alex Magera
Lakehead: Adam Sergerie

Guelph: Andrew Loverock - 29 saves
Lakehead: Alex Dupuis - 27 saves
  • I'm going to pretend like Guelph's head coach Shawn Camp read last week's post to his team. Specifically Andrew Loverock, who completely shut down a potent Lakehead offence.
  • Adam Sergerie continues to have his best offensive season at Lakehead. That was his 10th of the season.
  • Speaking of Lakehead's offence, where have they gone? They averaged five a game in the first half, and just over 2.5 in January. Granted, that first half total is skewed a little by their crossover games against Nipissing and Concordia, but still.
Players of the Game
  • Loverock fully deserves it with his 29 save performance, shutting down Lakehead's powerplay six times.
  • Sergerie has been contributing pretty consistently. He doesn't have too multiple-point games, but he also never has extended droughts. That's pretty valuable.

Saturday, January 29

Guelph 3-2 Lakehead

Goal Scorers
Guelph: Andrew Merrett, Justin Gvora, Patrick Campbell
Lakehead: Ryan Magill, Victor Anilane

Guelph: Andrew Loverock - 30 saves
Lakehead: Alex Dupuis - 30 saves
  • Loverock did it again. So did Guelph's secondary scoring with Gvora (5th on the Gryphons in total points), Merrett and Campbell (11th and 12th respectively) getting the goals.
  • What is going on with Brock McPherson? The former first-team all-star is on pace for his worst statistical year at Lakehead thanks to a paltry seven points in his last eight games.
Players of the Game
  • Gvora had a big three point night after opening the scoring in the first game. That is a big weekend for any Gryphon forward.
  • Dupuis put up another good performance. Just didn't get the goal support he needed.

Laurier 4-2 York

Goal Scorers
Laurier: Ryan Bernardi, Jordan Bonneville, Mitchell Good, Zack Woolford
York: Matt Thomson, Chris Jones

Laurier: Ryan Daniels - 26 saves
York: Travis Rolheiser - 18 saves
  • A great first period from Laurier gave them the 3-0 lead. They nearly let it slip away at the end. Better teams will make them pay.
  • Rolheiser has started a couple games in a row. He's performed admirably for the Lions this semester with a .911 save percentage. Perhaps they are grooming the rookie to be the goaltender of the future.
Players of the Game
  • James Marsden had assists on Laurier's first two goals to get them off and running.
  • After a sub-par first period, Rolheiser shut the Hawks down, allowing his team to mount a comeback. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough.

Western 3-1 Windsor

Goal Scorers
Western: Josh McQuade, Matt Paltridge, Kyle Lamb
Windsor: Brett Oliphant

Western: Josh Unice - 43 saves
Windsor: Frank Dayus - 37 saves
  • Anthony who? Another solid night from Unice to get a little vengeance for last week's shootout loss to the Lancers.
  • Again, Western is getting scoring from everywhere. Matt Paltridge of all people scored the winner.
  • Nice to see Western's powerplay show up again. I've missed it this past month. They went 3 for 8 on the night after going 2 for 34 in their past seven.
Players of the Game
  • It's not often a team fires 44 shots and loses. The credit goes to Unice for that.
  • Dayus faced 80 shots in two games. He only allowed five goals. And this is their back-up. Wow.

UOIT 4-3 Waterloo

Goal Scorers
UOIT: Josh Vatri (2), Nathan Spaling (2)
Waterloo: Jarrett Schnurr, Ryan Molle, Mike Veysey

UOIT: Jason Guy - 22 saves, 3 GA , Jeff Dawson - 1 save (He played for 1:48 total)
Waterloo: Keaton Hartigan - 33 saves
  • Vatri and Spaling have had quite a month with both putting up a point a game. And yet this is a down season for both compared to last year. That being said, they have been crucial in carrying the Ridgebacks back to the playoffs.
  • Both teams had success on special teams, each scoring two powerplay goals on six advantages. However, UOIT's penalty kill also produced a goal.
  • A little shout-out to Spaling, Derek Bagshaw and TJ Legge who all played their final regular season home game. They have been on the team since UOIT joined the OUA.
Players of the Game
  • Vatri, Spaling and Scott Baker had two points each, and were crucial to UOIT's special teams success.
  • Jarrett Schnurr had a two goal weekend. A nice return after he missed last weekend's games. He now has 21 points on the season.
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1 comment:

  1. What size is Brock MacPherson this year?

    I have never seen an "elite" hockey player look less like that when Brock is in his street clothes. Offensive lineman you might guess, but not sniper. That was my lasting first impression of him at the University Cup two years ago.

    I'm not saying you have to greyhound lean like most of the other top players, but ...