Lakehead Thunderwolves Mens Hockey
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John Payetta
Friday, February 10, 2017

In the most exciting game of the season so far, the Lakehead Thunderwolves beat the Western Mustangs 6-5 in an overtime shootout before a crowd of 2140 at the Fort William Gardens on Friday night.

Grant Valiquette was the hero in a contest that saw plenty of big plays, particularly on offense, for both sides.

Western’s Spencer Cobbold drew first blood 4:24 into the game by rifling the puck past Lakehead netminder Devin Green from the slot right after a face-off in the Wolves’ end.

Cody Alcock replied for Lakehead 40 seconds later with a hard shot from the left face-off circle that eluded Mustangs’ goalie Lucas Peressini on the glove side.

Grant Valiquette went top shelf with a wrist shot at 16:34 to put the Wolves up 2-1 heading into the middle frame.

Kelin Ainsworth extended Lakehead’s lead midway through the second when he walked right in and fired the puck high on Peressini, once again on his glove side.

Western stole some of the Wolves’ momentum when Scott Teskey got a short-hander with only 10 seconds to go in the period.

Sam Schutt put Lakehead back up by two by pouncing on a rebound 7:01 into the third, but Mike DiPaolo quickly answered for the Mustangs just 17 seconds later.

Western’s Ray Huether knotted the score at the 8:58 mark when he broke in alone and knocked home his own rebound after Green had made a brilliant pad save on the first shot.

Billy Jenkins put the Wolves up 5-4 with a beautiful goal on a breakaway by deking Peressini and stuffing the puck between his legs at 17:08, and that looked liked it might stand as the deciding goal. 

But two late penalties by Lakehead gave the Mustangs a 5-on-3 power play, that became a 6-on-3 advantage after Western pulled Peressini for an extra attacker.  Trent Ouellette cashed in on that when he rang the puck off the post and in with only 24 seconds remaining in regulation.

Neither team was able to convert in the first or second overtime periods, although Lakehead had the better scoring chances, partially due to a Mustangs’ penalty late in the first O.T. session.

In the shootout, all four of Western’s shooters - Huether, Cobbold, Ouellette and Connor Chartier - were stymied by Green, but Lakehead’s first three shooters - Jenkins, Alcock and Ainsworth - were also turned away by Peressini.

Valiquette won it with a nifty move that he finished off by flipping the puck into the air on his backhand and then swatting it with his forehand past Peressini into the top corner of the net.

Total shots on goal in the game were 38-33 for Lakehead.

For the night, the Wolves were 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Mustangs went 1-for-7.

The Molson Three Stars of the game were:

1. Grant Valiquette, Lakehead
2. Billy Jenkins, Lakehead
3. Kelin Ainsworth, Lakehead

The win moves Lakehead up one notch into seventh place in the OUA West Division.  The Wolves will look to close out the regular season with another victory when the two teams square off again tomorrow night.

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