Story by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
Photos by Chris Mailloux
The Lance – Staff Photographer
The Windsor Lancer men’s hockey team have already felt the delight of victory and the pains of defeat in the opening weekend of the 2016-17 OUA regular season.
Led by a two goal night by reigning OUA rookie of the year Justice Dundas, the Lancers opened up their season with a hard fought 3-2 victory over the visiting Toronto Varsity Blues at South Windsor Arena Oct. 7. The next night, the Lancers held a 2-0 lead before the Ryerson Rams battled back with three consecutive goals, adding an empty-netter late in the third period of a 4-2 victory.
“We haven’t played a complete game yet … it’s only two games but we have a short season,” said Lancers assistant captain Dylan Denomme. “We played our game against Toronto, we hit. When we do things like that in our barn, like we know how to play, we beat Toronto even though we had a bad third period. Against Ryerson, we came out flying in the first – hitting, moving our feet, getting pucks deep in there end, not turning over pucks – little things like that.”
In their home-opening game against Toronto, the Lancers came out of the gate flying and found the scoreboard just 34 seconds into regulation when Dundas finished off a pass from Tyson Ness and rookie Chadd Bauman. Windsor doubled their lead four minutes later when Dundas beat Blues goaltender Andrew Hunt for the second time in the opening frame.
Third year Lancers forward Sebastian Beauregard added his first goal of the season late in the second period to push Windsor’s lead to 3-0 heading into the third period. The Blues rattled off a quick to start the third when Dean Klomp scored just 37 seconds in. Four minutes later, Toronto’s Ryan Kirkup converted late on a power play to cut the deficit to one. Both teams battled over the duration of regulation but Lancers goaltender Blake Richard made 32 saves in his season debut for the win, while Hunt turned aside 28 shots for Toronto.
Against the Rams, Konnor Haas kicked off his Lancer career in high fashion, two Windsor’s goals on the power play early in the first period to give the Lancers an early 2-0 lead. The Rams continued to plug away and battled back with four unanswered goals throughout the remainder of the game to earn the win. The comeback started with two consecutive Ram power play goals. Michael Fine brought the game within one with a power play goal at 18:20 of the first. After a scoreless second period, Ryerson defencemen Alex Basso scored unassisted to tie the game at 5:29 of the third.
“Then we took some bad penalties, myself included,” said Denomme. “They were scoring on the power play and when you give a guy like Basso the opportunity to quarterback their power play, he’s going to score. He’s one of the best defencemen in the league.”
Jamie Lewis then scored the go ahead goal two minutes later to give Ryerson the lead. Lewis, a former Windsor Spitfires forward in the Ontario Hockey League said the Rams came out slow compared to the Lancers but once they adjusted their defensive game they kicked it into high gear in the third period.
“Between the second and third period our coach us to bear down and keep things simple,” said Lewis. “We kept working and we have a lot of skill so it took over from there. We’re still all trying to get some on the same page but I think we have a great team and we’re doing to do very well this year.”
Windsor battled hard for the equalized, but Rams forward Vince Figliomeni scored an empty netter with 10 seconds on the clock to secure the victory. Lancers goalie Kris Royce stopped 29 of 32 in the loss while Rams netminder Charlie Graham made 14 saves for the win.
“We know what kind of team we are,” said Denomme. “We know how we have to play and if we don’t do that, we won’t win a lot of hockey games. If we stick to our game plan, we can win.”
The Lancers will now travel to Lakehead for a pair of games in Thunder Bay next weekend before returning back home game to South Windsor Arena Oct. 21 when they host the Guelph Gryphons at 7:30 p.m.