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Sunday, May. 19, 2019
A nice enough weekend split that could have been more
by Randy Pascal

Under normal circumstances, with the top two teams in the OUA East coming to town, Laurentian Voyageurs men's hockey coach Craig Duncanson would be more than happy with a split.

Not this time.

After holding on to secure a 3-2 win over the second place Carleton Ravens (5-1-3) on Friday night at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, the Voyageurs appeared poised to make it at least a three point weekend, deadlocked at 5-5 with the front-running Ottawa Gee Gees (7-0-1), with just minutes to play.

But a high sticking call to defenceman Zach Wilkie at the 17:12 mark would lead to the game-winning goal, exactly 90 seconds later, as Ottawa escaped with a 6-5 win.

On its own, the tagged infraction was clearly cause for frustration for coach Duncanson. But throw in the fact that the Gee Gees enjoyed a total of six power play opportunities, versus just one for the home side, and one can see the background to the ire that the one-time Sudbury Wolves' sniper felt towards the officiating crew.

At the end of the day, the two-game home set was certainly a positive one for Laurentian, going toe to toe with two of the OUA elite. The blue and gold took advantage of Carleton turnovers in game one, starting in the first when Danny Lepage stripped a Ravens defender clean on the forecheck, making no mistake in opening the scoring.

The L.U. lads doubled their advantage before the end of the frame, as Richard Therrien closed off a three way passing play that also included captain Nicolas Dionne and blueliner Jayme Forslund.

Dionne would increase the lead to 3-0, intercepting an ill-advised pass through the middle of the Carleton defensive zone and eventually whacking in his own rebound, mid-air, past Ravens' netminder Justin Nicholls.

That marker appeared to awaken the visitors, who countered with goals by Jared Steege and Brogan O'Brien, on the power-play, before the end of the middle stanza. While Carleton controlled the majority of play in the third, Laurentian puckstopper Michael Giugovaz was at his best, holding the Ravens at bay with a 31-save effort.

The Saturday encounter was both a much more wide-open affair, with frequent quality chances at both ends of the rink, as well as nothing if not a see-saw battle, with momentum shifting constantly.

The first period alone set the tone. Laurentian opened the scoring (Nicolas Dionne), Ottawa countered with a pair (Jacob Hanlon/Brendan Jacome), before the Voyageurs regained the lead (Zach Wilkie/Xavier Couture).

More of the same in the second, as Gavin Apperson doubled the L.U. advantage, only to see the Gee Gees pull even on tallies from Michael Poirier and Medric Mericer, the latter scoring at the 19:59 mark as Ottawa won a faceoff, clean, with just 3.8 seconds remaining in order to initiate the play that led to the game-tying marker.

Yet despite that blow to the gut, Laurentian proved itself a resilient side, moving ahead 5-4 when Jacob Smith banged the puck past Graham Hunt, with linemates Nicolas Dionne and Richard Therrien drawing assists.

Cody Drover got that one back some three minutes later before the late power-play goal from Kevin Domingue broke the back of Duncanson and company. With a record of 4-6-0, the Voyageurs head off to Kingston this coming weekend, battling the Queen's Gaels (November 16th) and Royal Military College Paladins (November 17th) on the shores of Lake Ontario.

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