THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – The Lakehead Thunderwolves were edged 3-2 by the York Lions before a crowd of 1998 at the Fort William Gardens on Saturday night.
Lakehead played a strong game and outshot York 32-21 on the night, but Lions’ goalie Mack Shields was very sharp throughout the contest.
Derek Sheppard got York on the board early when he rifled the puck past Lakehead netminder Devin Green just 1:32 into the game, and Bryce Milson extended the Lions’ lead by finishing off a two-on-one with a hard shot that beat Green low on the glove side at 13:18.
Sam Schutt fed Brennen Dubchak who one-timed it past Shields at the buzzer to pull the Wolves to within one heading into the second, with Carson Dubchak getting the other assist.
York’s Greg Milner got the only goal of the middle frame on a Lions’ power play with a screened shot that sailed over Green’s shoulder at the 10:36 mark.
The Thunderwolves had a five-on-three power play opportunity for a minute-and-a-half late in the period but were unable to convert.
Kelin Ainsworth pulled Lakehead to within a goal with just under five minutes to go while the Wolves held the man-advantage, with Dylan Butler and Justin Sefton picking up the helpers.
Lakehead lifted Green for an extra attacker with well over a minute remaining in regulation and York nearly got an empty-netter to ice the game, but a nice save by Wolves’ defenceman Justin Sefton prevented a Lions’ goal.
Lakehead had a few chances late to even the score, but Shields was equal to the task and York skated off with the win for the second night in a row.
For the night, the Wolves were 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Lions went 1-for-2.
The Molson Three Stars of the game were:
- Mack Shields, York
- Kelin Ainsworth, Lakehead
- Sam Schutt, Lakehead
The loss puts Lakehead’s OUA record at 10-11-2 (12-15-2 overall) and drops the Wolves down to eighth place in the West Division, four points ahead of ninth-place Western for the final playoff spot with five games to go in the season.
But the Wolves are only six points out of fourth place in the tightly-grouped race for playoff seeding, with one to three games in hand over the four teams standing between them and home-ice advantage for the first round of the post season.
Lakehead will embark on a three-game road trip beginning with Ryerson on Thursday night, followed by a pair of games at Waterloo on Friday and Saturday that will go a long way in determining the Wolves’ playoff fate.