Heartbreaker as TWolves Drop Playoff Opener
THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – The Lakehead Thunderwolves couldn’t hang on to a two-goal lead and gave up a late score to fall 3-2 to the York Lions in front of 1727 fans at the Fort William Gardens Wednesday night in game one of the best-of-three OUA West Division quarter-finals.
Lakehead came out of the gates like a hungry pack of Wolves in the first half of the opening period, dominating the bewildered Lions.
Lakehead defenceman Linden Springer knocked a York forward over the boards and onto the bench, setting a physical tone to the game early on.
Cody Alcock drew first blood for the Thunderwolves by scoring from the doorstep on York goalie Mack Shields after receiving a nice cross-crease pass from Grant Valiquette at the 8:31 mark.
Zach Whitlock tipped Justin Sefton’s point shot past Shields while the Wolves were on the power play at 17:37 to give Lakehead a 2-0 lead, with Kelin Ainsworth getting the second assist.
The middle stanza was a completely different story, as York gradually gained control of the game, outshooting the Wolves 17-2 in the period.
Devin Green was outstanding in the Lakehead goal, turning aside everything the Lions fired his way until Derek Sheppard finally beat him on a shot that Green got a piece of -but just not enough – as the puck trickled past him into the net at 17:48.
York’s Scott Feser evened the score with a rocket from the left face-off circle with 38 seconds left in the period, turning the momentum completely in the Lions’ favor.
After the second intermission break, the Wolves regained their composure and the third period was evenly played, with both goaltenders coming up with key saves when called upon.
Dylan Butler had a golden opportunity to put Lakehead up by one, but he was robbed by Shields, even as he was sprawled out on the ice.
The game appeared to be heading into overtime, but York stunned Lakehead when Daniel Nakandrov knocked home a rebound with just five seconds on the clock after a terrific pad save by Green, and the Lions skated off with the win.
On the night, Lakehead was 1-for-3 on the power play, while York went 0-for-4.
Total shots on goal in the game were 38-24 for the Lions.
The Molson Three Stars of the game were:
- Devin Green, Lakehead
- Derek Sheppard, York
- Cody Alcock, Lakehead
The series will now shift to Toronto, where the Wolves will try to stave off elimination in game two of the series on Saturday night at Canlan Arena on the York campus. If necessary, game three will go Sunday afternoon.