March 16, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 86  

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Lions feast on Wolves

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Staff

Aaron Lynett/Gazette
“HOLD ME CLOSER, TONY DANZA.” Lakehead Thunderwolves captain Joel Scherban battles York’s Julian Smith as they await a face-off during Saturday’s West Division Championship.

Saturday afternoon was just another chapter of the same old story for the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

After enjoying yet another spectacular regular season and a victory over Western in the Far West Division final, the Thunderwolves had their season cut short by the York Lions for the second straight year, losing their semi-final contest 3-2.

Trailing York by a score of 2-1 heading into the third period, Lakehead threw everything they had at York goaltender Derek Dolson. Their strategy paid dividends when Michael Wehrstedt fired a shot through a crowd and between Dolson’s pads to even the score at 2-2.

“I thought we played really well the first two periods,” said York coach Graham Wise. “They came out guns-a-blazin’ in the third, and it was all we could do to try and weather the storm.”

Despite sustained pressure and a sense of urgency, the Thunderwolves were unable to take the lead as time and time again Dolson was there to make the key save.

Even with the man advantage, the Thunderwolves came up short as the York penalty-kill completed a perfect six for six night with James Carney in the box at the midway point of the period.

At 13:53 of the final frame, York was given their third power play of the game when Thunderwolves defenseman Matt Kenny was called for interference. Fourteen seconds later, the Lions jumped back on top as fourth-year centre Matt Reynolds found a loose puck in the crease and banged it home for the winning goal.

Dolson was able to stifle the Lakehead attack for the remainder of the game as the Lions earned a spot in the Queen’s Cup final, as well as a trip to New Brunswick for the National Championship.

Phil Knapp and Daryl Bat each scored first period goals for the Lions, while Chris Shaffer rounded out the scoring with a tally in the first period for Lakehead.

Making 52 saves in the contest, Dolson was the undisputed player of the game, an occurrence that has been all too familiar to Ontario University Athletics competition this season.

“He’s amazing,” said York alternate captain Steve Chabbert of his netminder. When he’s on, we can beat anyone in the country and we displayed that today.”

Special teams were a huge factor in the game. York’s ability to take advantage on the power play accounted for two of their three goals as they didn’t let many good opportunities go to waste.

“If you win the special teams, you usually win the game,” Chabbert explained. “It’s something we’ve really tried to focus on in the playoffs. It worked for us [in the Mid West Division final] against Laurier, and it worked again today.”

Coupled with Toronto’s win over Western on Friday night, York’s victory had Thompson Arena a-buzz with the word ‘upset’. However, Belliveau cautioned against thinking about this tournament in terms of favourites and underdogs.

“This time of year, anything can and will happen,” Belliveau said. “There are five good teams in this tournament and everyone coming in has a chance. It’s the same situation at nationals.”



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