The Lakehead Thunderwolves were edged 4-2 by the Western Mustangs at Thompson Arena in London on Friday night, dashing the Wolves’ hopes of qualifying for the OUA playoffs.
In a continuation of a recent trend, Lakehead gave up an early goal when Ray Huether ripped one over the shoulder of Wolves’ goalie Devin Green just 1:01 into the game.
Adam Sinclair put the Mustangs up 2-0 by completing a two-on-one with a hard wrister that beat Green high on the glove side at 12:46 of the first.
The Wolves came out in the second period with a lot of jump and took the play to the Mustangs.
Dexter Kuczek got Lakehead on the board when he broke in alone on Western netminder Luke Peresinni and scored with a nice move by outwaiting him before flipping the puck over his shoulder at the 1:07 mark.
Green and Peresinni were both tested in the middle frame but came up with some key saves to keep the score at 2-1 after 40 minutes.
The Thunderwolves looked like they might tie the game up with a five-on-three power play early in the third but were unable to convert, and then Sinclair gobbled up a loose puck for a breakaway chance but was robbed by Green to keep the Wolves within striking distance.
Lakehead was controlling the play midway through the period but gave up an odd-man rush that Spenser Cobbold finished with a one-timer that Green had no chance on, putting Western up 3-1 with 9:25 to go.
The Wolves replied just 22 seconds later to cut the lead to 3-2 when Josh Laframboise fired a rocket from the slot after a great setup by Tomas Soustal from behind the Mustangs’ net, with Matt Alexander also assisting.
Lakehead kept applying the pressure and pulled Green for an extra attacker with two minutes remaining, but Cobbold got his second goal of the night with an empty-netter that sealed the deal for Western.
On the night, the Thunderwolves were 0-for-6 on the power play while the Mustangs went 0-for-1.
Total shots on goal in the game were 33-27 in favor of Western.
The loss drops Lakehead’s OUA record to 11-15-1 and to 17-16-1 overall. Combined with Toronto’s win over Laurier, the Thunderwolves will miss the post-season for just the second time in the team’s history.
The Wolves will look to end the season on a winning note when they square off against the Mustangs again tomorrow afternoon, with the opening face-off set for 4:00 p.m.