Led by the solid goaltending of Nic Renyard, the Lakehead Thunderwolves defeated the Western Mustangs 4-2 in front of 2,262 fans at the Fort William Gardens on Friday night.
Lakehead dominated play in the opening 20 minutes and scored twice late in the first period to stake the Wolves to an early lead.
Callum Fryer finished off an odd-man rush by beating Mustangs’ goalie Luke Perisinni on the glove side at 16:14, with Jordan Larson and Matt Alexander assisting.
Daniel Del Paggio struck again with just 29 ticks on the clock after being set up by Patrick Murphy, giving Lakehead a 2-0 lead heading into the second.
Shots on goal in the first were 18-7 for the Thunderwolves.
Western picked up the pace in the middle frame, firing 24 shots at Renyard, compared to 14 for Lakehead.
Anthony Stefano got the Mustangs on the board by slamming the puck home from the edge of the crease at the 11:10 mark.
Dexter Kuczek restored Lakehead’s two-goal lead at 15:11 with a quick shot from close range after receiving a pass from Daniel McKitrick who was set up behind the Mustangs net. Murphy was credited with the second assist, and the Thunderwolves took a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
Western kept applying the pressure in the final stanza and cut the Wolves’ lead to 3-2 when Kolton Olynek fired a rocket from the slot that eluded Renyard low on the glove side.
Perisinni was pulled for an extra Mustang attacker in the late going, but Brennen Dubchak broke free and slid the puck into the empty cage with 54 seconds remaining to ice the game for Lakehead. Murphy picked up his third assist of the game, with Dylan Butler getting the other helper.
The final shots on goal tally for the night was 47-38 for the Mustangs.
Neither team was able to score with the man advantage, with each side getting four power play opportunities.
The Molson Three Stars of the game were:
1 Nic Renyard, Lakehead
2 Daniel Del Paggio, Lakehead
3 Patrick Murphy, Lakehead
The Wolves will be in action again tomorrow night when they take on the Windsor Lancers, with the opening face-off set for 7:00 pm.