GUELPH, Ont. (from Guelph Gryphons) – Throughout the regular season, no team in the OUA showcased as much offensive firepower as the Guelph Gryphons. The men’s hockey team scored an OUA-best 122 goals in 28 games while posting the best record in the West Division (21-6-1).
On Thursday night, in the opening game of the 2018 OUA playoffs, the Gryphons proved they can win games by riding their defence as well. The No. 1-seeded Guelph Gryphons picked up a 3-1 home win over the No. 8 Windsor Lancers in Game 1 of their best-of-3 OUA West quarterfinal series.
The Gryphons limited the Lancers to just seven shots over the final two periods and outshot Windsor 40-16 on the evening. After falling behind 1-0 just over five minutes into the game, the Gryphons would bounce back with three unanswered goals, two of which came from standout rookie Todd Winder, en route to a crucial first-game win. The Gryphons will now look to close out the series on Saturday night in Windsor.
“We had a bit of a slow start tonight and showed some nerves early, but really settled down after that and started moving our feet,” said Gryphons head coach Shawn Camp. “The guys were excited to get the playoffs going, but once we got that first goal, it seemed to give us some confidence. It was a good defensive effort.”
The Gryphons entered Thursday night’s playoff game well aware of the threat posed by the Lancers, with Windsor winning both of their regular season meetings with Guelph. 5:31 into the opening period, the Lancers jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Alex Friesen showed off some nice hand-eye coordination to bat a puck out of mid-air to open the scoring for the visitors.
The Gryphons would answer later in the period however, with Winder (Uxbridge, Ont.) potting a rebound past Windsor goalie Jonathan Reinhart during a Gryphon power play opportunity to tie the game at 1-1.
Winder, who was the fifth-leading goal scorer in all of U Sports during the regular season with 18 goals, would strike again midway through the second period to give the Gryphons a 2-1 lead. This time, it was Winder finishing off some nice passing from Cody Thompson (Mississauga, Ont.) and Reilly O’Connor (Penticton, B.C.) to beat Reinhart for his second goal of the night.
It was all part of a dominant second period performance by the Gryphons, who outshot Windsor 16-4 in the frame. The Lancers remained within striking distance however, down just a goal, thanks in large part to the play of Reinhart.
With just under seven minutes remaining in the second period, the Lancers would get a scare when Reinhart was forced to leave the game after taking a shot to the mask which drew some blood.
With Reinhart temporarily out of the game for repairs, the Gryphons would not waste any time solving backup goalie Matt Badour.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second period, Gryphons fourth year forward Seth Swenson (Parker, Colo.) would give the Gryphons a 3-1 lead when his wrister fooled Badour to extend the U of G lead to two heading into the final period.
Reinhart would return in 3rd period, just in time to deny Winder of his hat trick with a nice pad save early in the period. But the Lancers were unable to generate anything offensively over the final 20 minutes, with the Gryphons limiting Windsor to just three shots in the third.
U of G’s rookie goalie Andrew Masters (Kitchener, Ont.) had a relatively quiet night in his playoff debut, turning aside 15 of the 16 shots sent his way for the win.
Coach Camp was quick to point out the play of U of G defencemen Josh and Zach McFadden, with the two brothers combining to help spearhead the polished defensive performance by the Gryphs.
The best-of-3 series will now shift to South Windsor Arena with puck drop set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday. Game 3, if necessary, would fall on Sunday evening back at the Gryphon Centre.