On a frigid cold Wednesday night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex, the fourth annual Battle At The Aud took place between the Laurier Golden Hawks and the Waterloo Warriors. Entering the contest in Kitchener, the Laurier Golden Hawks were well positioned, holding a record of 10-11-2, just one point behind both the Mustangs and Thunderwolves. As such, with 23 points, they would enter the battle while seeking a playoff spot, this being the case after winning on Saturday, placing Laurier eighth in the OUA West.
As for their crosstown rivals, the Waterloo Warriors walked in below them, owning a record of 9-12-2 while three points behind the host team Laurier Golden Hawks. With Wednesday being labeled an important one, the pressure to perform would only add to the stress as the visiting Warriors looked to overcome struggles while looking for a spark with a tie break in hand.
Starting on Wednesday for Laurier would be Matt Williams between the pipes, meanwhile, on the other end for Waterloo, the Warriors would look to Alberta native Trevor Martin. Martin, 23-years-old, is a former member of the WHL, meanwhile, Williams, a first-year, is a former backstop for the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Another special factor going into the U Sports classic would be a Rangers alum playing on both ends as Chase Campbell (Wloo) and Kyle Gentles (WLU) both made their returns for the first time to The Aud. Gentles, a Laurier defensemen, played 174 OHL games with the Kitchener Rangers. This would be the case over three full seasons before joining the Golden Hawks.
As the game got underway in downtown Kitchener on Wednesday evening, the Laurier Golden Hawks broke open the scoring just one minute into the game’s first period. After pouncing on the puck off the face-off, the goal would be credited early on to Danny Hanlon. For Hanlon, the opening goal would also make for his 10th of the season.
Hanlon’s goal was assisted by Gentles, making quick work of Martin and the Waterloo Warriors. While fast paced and dominating the opposition, the goal from Danny Hanlon would be all she wrote, giving Laurier the 1-0 lead after twenty minutes. Once the intermission concluded, both sides hit the ice for the game’s second period.
This would see the Golden Hawks break out of the locker room hot once again as two minutes in, Will Cook would deliver, potting the puck from behind Trevor Martin. This would give Wilfrid Laurier a 2-0 lead over the Waterloo Warriors. After being passed up the ice from the Warriors blue line nearby the boards, the assist on Cook’s fourth goal would be credited to Kyle Jenkins and Jeremy Pullara.
As the frame resumed with the Laurier Golden Hawks looking to dig a deeper hole for the Warriors, Anthony Conti, four minutes later, would net one of his own for the 3-0 lead. The goal, his 14th of the season, would be assisted by Anthony Sorrentino.
Fast forward to six minutes remaining and the puck now floating in the Golden Hawks zone, Wilfrid Laurier would lose possession after a face-off to the Waterloo Warriors. As this turned the tables on Bell Lets Talk night at The Aud in Kitchener, the visiting club peppered shots on Matt Williams, but unable to get through as he kept Laurier intact.
Looking forward another two minutes later, the Laurier Golden Hawks were far from done as Wilfrid Laurier, in the attacking zone, would take full advantage after chasing the puck. This would see Jeremy Pullara send the puck to the crease where it would find Grayden Gottschalk. For Gottschalk, it was his seventh of the season with 4:24 left to play in the second. However, after his contribution, the clock would run out as the horn then sounded. This would put a wrap on the period with the Golden Hawks now up by a commanding 4-0 lead.
In the game’s third and final frame, with twenty minutes left and up by 4, the Warriors and Golden Hawks would go back and forth while managing to keep silent halfway through. As the clock trickled down in Kitchener with a spot in the playoffs on the line for Waterloo, Tyler Beauparlant, skating up from the blue line, would make a slick pass to his left near the crease. That would allow Nick Halagian to slide the puck through right by backstop Matt Williams. The goal, scored with seven minutes left, would put the Warriors within one of Wilfrid Laurier.
In the game’s final minutes at The Aud with Waterloo trailing the Golden Hawks by three, the Warriors would pull Trevor Martin from the crease while replacing him in net with backup goalie Julian Sime. Sime, on in relief for the veteran, would keep the door shut, making nine stops in six minutes. After a brief, yet perfect outing, Sime would get the hook for the extra attacker for Waterloo.
This would leave the evening with just sixty seconds left to play on the clock which would allow Danny Hanlon to finish it off with an empty net goal, locking ship for the Golden Hawks. The goal, scored with 30 seconds left, would be assisted by Anthony Sorrentino. That would give Wilfrid Laurier a 5-1 win at this year’s Battle At The Aud.
For Laurier, the victory continues the team’s perfect record at The Aud in Kitchener. The Golden Hawks, dubbed as the home team, pick up their fourth straight win over the Waterloo Warriors. This reignites the crosstown rivalry as the season winds down on the OUA schedule.
The shots finished 36-22 in favour of Laurier at The Aud in Kitchener. The Golden Hawks, now 11-11-2, return to action in Toronto on Thursday when they pay a visit to the Ryerson Rams with puck drop scheduled for 7:15pmET. The game, which is set to be played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the downtown core, is available for viewing on OUA.tv with coverage to follow on 49 Sports.