The Lakehead Thunderwolves were edged 4-2 by the York Lions in game #2 of the OUA West Division quarter-finals at the Canlan Ice Sports Arena on Saturday night to even the series and force a third and deciding game.
In contrast to the series opener, both sides played it a little closer the vest to start the game, but that lasted less than half a period before things opened up and both goalies - Lakehead’s Nic Renyard and York’s Mack Shields - were tested and answered the bell, just as they did in the game one.
The Lions drew first blood when Morgan Messenger received a drop pass in the high slot and fired low on Renyard’s stick side at 14:55.
Lakehead responded quickly with pressure on Shields, and Jonathon Masters nearly tied the game when he rang the puck of the post.
Scott Gall got the Wolves on the board by swooping down the right side, cutting to the middle and beating Shields five-hole with a hard wrister at the 16:07 mark.
The pace of play went up another notch in the second period, where the Wolves and Lions once again traded goals.
York took advantage of a Lakehead turnover early in the middle stanza when Colton Vannucci broke in alone on Renyard and beat him with a backhand deke.
Midway through the period, Copper Leitch had a clear breakaway but was stymied by Shield’s quick glove hand.
A lively bounce off the back boards seemed to surprise Shields a few minutes later, and Trevor Hynnes pounced on the opportunity and roofed it to tie the game up at 13:35, with Dillon Donnelly and Austin McDonald getting the assists.
Renyard made a crucial stop on a Lions’ break late in the period to keep the score even heading into the third.
Perhaps because they knew they were facing elimination, the Lions took control of the game in the final frame, outshooting the Thunderwolves 16-3. Renyard did his best to hold the Lions at bay, but a pass from behind the Lakehead net by York’s Stefano Pezzetta found Alex Mowbray on the edge of the crease, and his one-timer low to the stick side put the Lions up 3-2 with nine minutes to go.
Lakehead pulled Renyard for an extra attacker in the final minute, but an empty-netter Kyle Campbell at 19:52 iced the game for the Lions.
Total shots on goal in the game were 42-23 for York.
Neither team was able to score on the power play, with only two attempts per side.
With the series now tied at one game apiece, the third and deciding game will go Sunday night at the Canlan Ice Sports Arena in North York, with the opening face-off set for 7:00 p.m.