U Sports MHKY: OUA West teams take first strides towards nationals

The Queen’s cup playoffs began on Wednesday with three of the four OUA Western Conference matchups playing their first game of a best of three series. Justin Levine (@JustinLevineHBS) recaps all of the action.

Toronto, ON- After a season full of talent and promise, the Queen’s Cup Playoffs started Wednesday in Thunder Bay as the Ryerson Rams started first round action with a visit to Lakehead while facing the Thunderwolves.

Heading into the matchup, the Ryerson Rams were 20-5-2, meanwhile, the Lakehead Thunderwolves were slated in seventh at 13-12-3. Starting between the pipes on Wednesday were Garrett Forrest and Brock Aicken respectively as the Queen’s Cup championship got underway with the first of two games played at Fort Williams Gardens.

The Rams, with 43 points, were quick to the puck as the first round commenced, this seeing a pair of goals scored in the first, Patrick Fellows leading the way with the game’s first goal. The goal, scored ten minutes in, was his first of the playoffs to put Ryerson ahead.

Hung Le/Ryerson Rams Athletics

After the power play expired for Ryerson, the Rams very quickly found themselves bouncing back as Adam Craievich tipped the puck past Aiken, this doubling their lead just two minutes later. Much like Fellows, the Rams second goal, scored at 12:34, was his first of the playoffs. 

With Ryerson yet to back down, this would find the Rams closing in on the Thunderwolves where Jacob Kamps, just outside the crease, put one home behind Aiken for the 3-0 lead. That would be enough for a trifecta as the Thunderwolves found themselves drowning and fast.

Fortunately for the hometown Thunderwolves, the damage was held as the period concluded. The goal, which squeezed right behind Aiken, would be scored by Jacob Kamps with just four minutes left. That sent the teams off the ice as the game siren sounded after a busy twenty minutes.

James Mirabelli/Lakehead Thunderwolves Athletics

With the second frame well underway, this would pave a clear path for the Lakehead Thunderwolves as Tomas Soustal, just seven minutes in, would put Lakehead up one on the Ryerson Rams. This was all for production with twenty minutes left and the Rams up by two. Shots at the end of the period would be 35-26 in favour of Ryerson.

As the final frame started in Thunder Bay, the aggression would show in northwestern Ontario with the Thunderwolves trailing the Ryerson Rams with twenty minutes left on the clock in game one. With this thought in mind and Lakehead the host team to the Rams at Fort Williams, it would see Mathew Santos swipe the puck to Matt Mistele in front of Brock Aiken for some added insurance. 

The goal, scored with eight minutes left, would put the Rams up by three, 4-1 on Lakehead. This would be all she wrote as Ryerson exited with a game one victory. Garrett Forrest made 29 saves en route to the win as they head home for game two.

Christian Bender/Ryerson Rams Athletics

Speaking of which, this opens the quarters for the third place Rams with a positive mindset as they return to action in Toronto on Saturday when they welcome the Thunderwolves to Maple Leaf Gardens. Puck drop in the heart of Toronto is scheduled to fall at 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.

Toronto Varsity Blues vs Western Mustangs

Ryerson’s game on the road was not the lone game in the OUA West as the Western Mustangs and Toronto Varsity Blues played their first game as well to start the OUA playoffs. Starting for the Mustangs on Wednesday was Luke Peresinni against Alex Bishop with the game being played at Varsity Arena between the first and eighth seeds in the league’s Western Conference.

After a slow first period in Toronto, the pace picked up towards the 18:00 minute mark as winger Scott Kirton leaped in front on a rebound before Luke Peresinni to put the puck in the net. The goal, his first of the playoffs, gave the Varsity Blues an early 1-0 lead.

Seyran Mammadov/Varsity Blues Athletics

Jumping ahead to the second after Toronto converted on the play halfway through, Anthony Stefano sent the puck to Kenny Huether who potted the puck past Alex Bishop through the legs. The goal, his first of the playoffs, would knot the game up with just ten minutes left. However, for the Varsity Blues, this wouldn’t be all as they were out for revenge.

With that in mind, with 2:30 left in the game’s middle frame, Chase Olsen buried the puck past Bishop, this regaining the lead late in the period for Toronto. Before the frame came to a close, the Varsity Blues would be handed a penalty shot, this being taken by winger Scott Kirton who put the puck in to take a 3-1 lead. This would be all she wrote with twenty minutes left and Toronto up by two.

Into the game’s final period and the Mustangs continuing to be unsuccessful, the battle at Varsity would go down to the wire when Luke Peressini was pulled from the net. Western would get the extra attacker, but it wouldn’t do justice for the visiting Mustangs. After converting on the puck as play resumed, the Varsity Blues would add an empty net goal. This would give Toronto a 4-1 lead on home ice over Western.

Seyran Mammadov/Varsity Blues Athletics

Fast forward to the final two minutes and the Varsity Blues now ahead by three goals, the visiting Mustangs would come within one after Kolten Olynek banked the puck in by Peresinni. This would give Toronto a 4-2 lead in the game’s final minutes.

In the final minute, Scott Kirton returned with another empty netter, his third goal of the game. This not only would give him a hat trick, but shut the door on the Mustangs, beating Western 5-2. Shots at the end of the game would be 39-32 in favour of Western.

Now looking onto game two, the quarterfinals shifts to Southwestern Ontario as the Mustangs return to action in London on Saturday when they welcome Toronto to try and force game three. Puck drop on the campus of Western is scheduled to fall at 3:00pmET. The game, which is set to be played at Thompson Arena in the cities’ North end, is available for viewing on OUA.tv with coverage to follow on 49 Sports.

Ottawa Gee-Gees vs Ontario Tech Ridgebacks

Greg Mason/Ottawa Gee-Gees Athletics

Last, but not least, the Ottawa Gee-Gees and Ontario Tech. Despite a slow start in Oshawa, it was the Gee-Gees who opened the scoring as Kevin Domingue slipped the puck past Leif Hertz, this breaking the tie, giving Ottawa the lead. The goal, scored with two minutes left, was scored on the power play and his first of the playoffs. Defensemen Nick Mattinen would receive an assist on the opening goal.

Fast forward to the game’s second period which saw OUIT still trailing the Gee-Gees, it was Cody Grant playing hero for the Ridgebacks with a shot from the point to tie the game up at one. The goal, scored at 14:22, was also his first of the OUA playoffs. This would be all for production with twenty minutes left and the game knotted up.

Going into the game’s final period, it was all in the hands of the Gee-Gees as the nation’s capital was all over the puck in a back-and-forth battle with the hometown Ridgebacks. Fast forward to the last six minutes, it was Jacob Hanlon promptly leading the way as he took a shot from the point on Hertz, but just coming short as he sprawled for the save.

Robert Greeley/Ottawa Gee-Gees Athletics

After a cross-checking call on Mattinen, the siren would sound, sending game one to overtime. For Ottawa, it took only five minutes as Kyle Ward scored to put game one in the books. This would give the visiting Gee-Gees a 2-1 victory on the road in Oshawa.

Looking ahead to game two, the quarterfinals shifts to Southern Ontario as the Gee-Gees return to action in Ottawa on Saturday when they welcome the Ridgebacks while seeking to advance. Puck drop on the campus of Ottawa is scheduled to fall at 3:00pmET. The game, which is set to be played at Minto Sports Complex on King Edward Avenue, is available for viewing on OUA.tv with coverage to follow on 49 Sports.

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