THUNDER BAY, Ont — Defenceman Samuel Labrecque of Granby, Que., sparked a three-goal outburst in the second period as McGill skated to a convincing 5-1 triumph over the Lakehead Thunderwolves in OUA men’s hockey, before 3,021 at Fort William Gardens, Saturday.
It was a dominating performance for the Redmen, who held an impressive 43-26 edge in shots in an arena often considered to be a deathbed for visiting teams. McGill improved their lifetime record to 4-7-1 against Lakehead and chalked up their first win in Thunder Bay since October 8, 2011.
The win, McGill’s seventh win in the last eight games, wrapped up a marathon of first semester road trips that had the Redmen travelling a very demanding 13,210 kilometres since the third week of-September.
They were solid on special teams once again, going 1-for-5 on the power-play and erasing all four shorthanded scenarios. The Redmen are ranked fourth among all 19 OUA teams in both power-play (21.0%) and penalty-killing (87.1%).
“They came hard at us for the first five minutes but after they scored, we kind of took control of the game,” said Kelly Nobes, head coach at McGill. “We were really efficient in the way we played, We were very structured, kept our shifts short and had everybody on board tonight. There were no passengers. Our ‘D’ played well and we had goals from five different scorers. I was really happy with our effort.”
Mike Hammond, a senior from Victoria, B.C., opened the scoring for the ‘Wolves with his ninth of the season, which brought down a shower of Teddy Bears, which were collected for distribution to local charities for children. Undaunted the Redmen roared back with five unanswered goals, beginning with a power-play marker by Jonathan Brunelle, who struck for his sixth of the campaign, less than three minutes later,
Labrecque, a 5-foot-8, 183-pound rearguard who transferred to McGill this semester after playing three seasons of NCAA hockey at Clarkson University, gave the Redmen a 2-1 lead at 2:09 of the middle stanza. It was his sixth of the season and held up as the winning goal. The Redmen broke open the game late in the period taking a 4-1 lead with back-to-back goals, just 26 seconds apart, by forward Neal Prokop of Winnipeg and Montrealer Guillaume Monast, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound blueliner with AHL experience who recently rejoined the squad after sitting out last season to focus on his studies.
McGill rubbed salt in the wounded ‘Wolves during the final frame,when Prokop set up freshman Simon Tardif-Richard of Gatineau, Que., for his third of the season at 16:54.
Karel St-Laurent of Ste. Catherine, Que., turned aside 25 of 26 shots for the win, improving his record to 4-1-0. He now leads all OUA goalies with a stingy 1.81 goals-against average and ranked second in save percentage at .938.
Lakehead sophomore netminder Justin McDonald was credited with 38 saves and saw his record drop to 4-6-0,
“I’m really impressed with this group of guys,” added Nobes, who made four lineup changes after Friday’s 2-1 win at Windsor. “Our leadership is good, nobody complained (about the excessive travel or not dressing). The guys just sucked it up and played hockey and did what they had to do. We were just businesslike and I’m really pround with how they responded to the challenge.”
McGill, which sits third in the OUA East with a stellar 9-3 record, return to the friendly confines of McConnell Arena with a four-game stretch to close out the semester. They will host Ryerson and Toronto, Nov. 21-22, with both games slated for a 7 p.m. puck drop.
McGill 5 at Lakehead 1
(Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Fort William Gardens)
GOALS BY PERIOD:
McGill 1-3-1 — 5
Lakehead 1-0-0 — 1
1, Lakehead, Mike Hammond 9 (Magill), 6:14.
2, McGill, Jonathan Brunelle 6 (Pompei, McNicoll), 8:45 (PP).
Penalties-Carrick Lake (high sticking), 7:16.
Penalties-Dubchak Lake (boarding), 5:14; Barnard Mcg (slashing), 13:01.
6, McGill, Simon Tardif-Richard 3 (Prokop, Bonneau), 16:54.
Penalties-Dubchak Lake (spearing dble minor), 1:49; Delisle-Houde Mcg (slashing), 6:00; Le Sieur Mcg (cross checking), 8:49; Lemieux Mcg (boarding), 18:02; Chenevert Mcg (slashing), 18:41; Quesnele Lake (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:56.
Shots on Goal-
McGill 19-13-11 — 43.
Lakehead 5-13-8 — 26.
Power Play Opportunities-
McGill 1 / 5;
Lakehead 0 / 4.
McGill 5 / 10;
Lakehead 5 / 10.
McGill, Karel St-Laurent (W, 4-1-0, 26 shots-25 saves; 60:00).
Lakehead, Justin McDonald (L, 4-6-0, 43 shots-38 saves; 60:00).
Start: 7:32 PM
End: 9:53 PM
Referees-Eric Vastamaki, Nigel Black.
Linesmen-Adam Massaro, Scott Wrigley.
MOLSON CUP THREE STARS
1. MCG – 21 Neal Prokop
2. LAKE – 1 Justin McDonald
3. MCG – 35 Karel St-Laurent