York Gives Gryphs a pre-Christmas smackdown
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
The game started with a lot of close misses for both teams. During a roughing minor penalty on York goalie Kevin Druce (one of many that this future anger management patient would take on this night), Thomas Laplante set up Willoughby on the open side of the net, but in his haste Willoughby shot the puck right back at the goaltender allowing Druce to stop it and cover up. York’s best opportunity early in the game came when Jesse Grespan picked up the puck after Guelph’s Alex Magera fanned on it then breaking in on a breakaway. Grespan’s low shot was stopped by Adam Jennings, who got the call between the pipes for the Gryphons.
Special teams would lead to the first goal of the game while Jeff Oginski sat in the box for interference. Nathan Morris’s clearing attempt was picked off by Matt Passfield, who along the side boards sent the puck in to Tyler Harrison. Harrison wasted no time getting in front to Chris Jones, who one-timed the puck past Jennings. York doubled its lead only 44 seconds later, when Harrison picked up a sharp pass and broke in along on Jennings. The Guelph goalie stopped the first shot, but the rebound came right back out to Harrison, who tucked it home. Despite a pretty even period, the two quick goals gave York the edge.
The second period saw the Gryphons come out with some gusto. Under four minutes in, Michael Nelson picked up the puck on a powerplay in the offensive zone and slipped a quick pass to David Volpe. Volpe faked a shot, bringing down the goaltender, and then he sent a pass cross-crease to Chris Baker, who fired it back towards the sprawled goaltender. The puck went off of Druce’s stick and in, making it a 2-1 score. Unfortunately, some suspect refereeing on the part of both the official and the linesmen quashed some of the Gryphons’ gusto. After the third straight penalty to the Gryphons, the Lions capitalized on a Grennier tap-in to bring the lead back to 2. A mere 32 seconds later, a backhander from Bonhomme at the point floated through a screen and past Adam Jennings, making it a 4-1 score. Despite a few consecutive penalties to York, the Gryphons couldn’t respond, and were down by three at the end of the second.
The third period once again began with the Gryphons pressuring the Lions. Willoughby did a great job snatching the puck from York’s Sean Langdon. Willoughby banked it off of the back of the net, and then fed the puck out front to Laplante, who snapped a glove-high shot past Druce. Suddenly, the Gryphons had life again, down 4-2. But once again the stripes weren’t kind to them. Matt Passfield carried the puck through the middle of the ice, and Kent Merriam got slightly ahead of him, trying to get open for a pass on the wing. Merriam couldn’t quite hold up at the blue line, as he ended up in the zone just before Passfield. Typically this is an offside call, as the puck carrier, or the puck itself, needs to cross the line first. However, the linesman missed it, one of at least three the crew missed in that period alone. Merriam, with new life, cut across the middle of the ice, getting in the way of the Gryphon defenseman while creating a partial screen for Passfield. The 6’3” winger wasted no time blasting a shot over Jennings’ glove hand, giving York a 5-2 lead. However, the most bizarre incident of the game was yet to come.
With tempers flaring and the referees seemingly losing control of the game, they gave Laplante a boarding penalty with 1:52 remaining. Laplante joined a half-dozen other players in the penalty box. On the next play, Guelph’s point shot was stopped by Druce, and winger Dustin McCrank went for the rebound, but was cross-checked by York’s Eric Costanzo into the York netminder. Druce, never one to wait for an explanation, started punching McCrank. Jordan Grant came to McCrank’s defense, and the brawl began. All eight skaters, plus York’s goalie, were in a large scrum until two pairings broke off.
Druce refused to leave the fight, giving York an unfair advantage, until Jennings came storming down the ice from his goal crease. While Jennings never made it to Druce, who was protected by a forward, it definitely was a positive showing for his teammates, as the first-year goalie came to his teammate’s rescue. The fights went on for a few minutes until they separated everyone. As if anyone had any doubt left about the referee’s poor handle on the game, they only gave penalties to 6 of the 10 players on the ice. This naturally included both goaltenders who were each ejected from the game for the fight. The game ended peacefully after that, with York winning 5-2.
Here are my three stars of the game:
Third star – Guelph’s Matt Willoughby, 1 assist – Willoughby played a solid game from start to finish, and although he only had 1 assist, he could have easily had more.
Second star – York’s Blair Grennier, 1 goal, 1 assist – York’s captain came to life in the second period, scoring the winning goal and assisting on the insurance marker within a 32-second span.
First star – York’s Tyler Harrison, 1 goal, 1 assist – Harrison had likely around a half-dozen chances in this game, and played a strong game in his own end too. Hard to knock off the puck, Harrison kept a positive flow throughout the game and rightfully earned first star honours.