The Lakehead Thunderwolves began its three-game road on a winning note, defeating the University of Guelph 3-1 at the Gryphon Centre on Thursday night.
The Wolves struck just 24 seconds into the game when a Guelph defender got caught pinching, creating an odd-man rush that Patrick Murphy turned into an early lead with a wrister that went top shelf on the blocker side of Gryphons’ goalie Andrew Masters.
Lakehead extended its lead at 7:19 of the second period when Jordan Larson intercepted an ill-advised pass by Guelph’s Jesse Saban. Larson made the Gryphons pay with a wicked backhander that once again beat Masters where mama hides the cookies.
Momentum began to shift towards Guelph in the last half of the period as the Gryphons picked up their level of play, but Wolves’ netminder Nic Renyard was up to the task when called upon.
Guelph got on the scoreboard with 1:51 left in the middle frame after a point shot caromed off some traffic in front of the Wolves’ net and the puck landed at the edge of the crease, where Matt Kenney pounced on it and slammed it into the cage.
Lakehead restored its two-goal cushion at 2:21 of the third when Sam Schutt slid a nice pass to Dylan Butler in the slot, who made no mistake and buried the rubber behind Masters. Aaron Wesley-Chisel was credited with the second assist.
The Gryphons pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with three minutes to go in the game, but Lakehead kept most of Guelph’s scoring chances to the outside and when they did break through, they were thwarted by Renyard as they had been all night.
Three Lakehead players missed shots at the empty net, but it mattered not as the Thunderwolves held on to preserve the victory.
Very few penalties were assessed in the game and neither team was able to score on the few times it held the man advantage. Lakehead was given only two power play opportunities, while Guelph had just one.
Total shots on goal in the game were 43-30 for Guelph.
With the win, Lakehead’s OUA record improves to 5-2 (9-3 overall) and moves the Thunderwolves up into third place in the ten-team west division.
Lakehead’s road trip will continue in Toronto with a pair of games against the Varsity Blues on Friday and Saturday, with the opening face-off set for 7:00 pm on both nights.