After a hard-fought series, the Lakehead Thunderwolves were eliminated from the playoffs with a 5-1 loss to the York Lions in game three of the OUA West Division quarter-finals at the Canlan Ice Sports Arena on Sunday night.
The Lions started quickly and struck just 1:45 into the game when Ben Verrall’s wrist shot from the face-off circle slipped between the pads of Lakehead goalie Devin Green, who was screened on the play. Two minutes later, Morgan Messenger put York up 2-0 with a quick shot from the slot that beat Green on the blocker side.
Green steadied himself with a few big saves and then the Thunderwolves began to take the play to the Lions.
The Lions got caught on a bad pinch and the Wolves made them pay when Jonathon Masters slid a nice pass to Cooper Leitch in front of York netminder Mack Shields and Leitch made no mistake, beating him top shelf at 16:10 to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Lions went ahead 3-1 in the second period on a power play goal as Derek Sheppard’s hard wrister eluded Green with traffic in front of him at 8:54.
That was the only goal of the middle frame as both goaltenders were solid. Brennen Dubchak had a great chance get one back for Lakehead, but was robbed by Shields from close range.
The play turned very chippy in the last half of the period, with a total of eight minor penalties assessed to both sides in a span of just over twelve minutes.
Down by two in the third period, the Wolves were forced to press but the Lions didn’t go into a defensive shell. Reid Jackman’s goal at the 8:50 mark effectively sealed the deal for York, but Stefano Pezzetta scored from the doorstep at 14:30 to add an insurance marker and round out the scoring.
For the night, Lakehead was 0-for-6 on the power play, while York went 1-for-3.
Total shots on goal in the game were 38-28 in favor of the Lions.
This marks the second year in a row that York has dashed the Thunderwolves’ playoff hopes in the first round.