By Ankur Kumar
(WINDSOR, ON) – There are six games left to play in the OUA regular season and already the Windsor Lancers have matched last season’s total wins. Just as they had in November 2006 and October 2011, the Lancers won both games last weekend and extended their winning streak against Concordia Stingers to six games.
After sweeping the Stingers, the Lancers significantly improved against the OUA East from a 5-5-0 in 2013-14 to a 7-2-0 this season. The Lancers have won three straight and will split their final six games of the season, starting with their final roadie of the year, for the next three before returning home to close out play against York, Ryerson, and Brock.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a team from our division or from the East,” explained sophomore forward Mike Christou. “Teams have looked at us because we’ve been at the top all year. Anyone will be ready to play us.”
A 6-3 victory in game one started 28 seconds into their return to home ice. Dylan Seguin ended a nine-game goalless drought while line mate Mike Christou eradicated a 12 game deficit of his own, scoring his first since the 10-3 blowout win against the Varsity Blues, back in October.
“They’re a ground and pound line. I’m very confident in them,” said head coach Kevin Hamlin about centering Christou between Blake Blondeel and Dylan Seguin.
Snapping goalless droughts and collecting goals to kick start CIS careers, it was a weekend of several accomplishments.
Formerly of the Shawinigan Cataractes, JC Houde became the first Lancer freshman to score a shorthanded marker since Evan Stibbard did so against the Brock Badgers on October 21, 2011.
“It felt pretty awesome. I am on a great team and I’m glad to be here,” said the former QMJHL product. “As much as I can to help the team, I will. If coach expects more, I will do more.”
JC Houde and Sebastien Beauregard broke into the Stingers’ zone and, instead of making the pass, Houde faked and went for the shot himself to collect the shorthanded tally midway through the second period.
Houde and Beauregard would team up in the final two minutes of the third period, in game one, when Houde collected the assist on Beauregard’s first of the season. While it was the Stingers who arrived from la belle province, it was the Lancers who emulated the noteworthy French Connection, thanks to the Freshmen Frenchmen Houde and Beauregard.
The next night was a continuation of the offensive onslaught.
Spencer Pommells’ five points were the result of a hat trick and two assists, increasing him to 14 goals and leading the entire CIS with 28 assists and 42 points overall.
Dylan Denomme notched a power play goal and mirrored the effort of fellow rookie Houde from the night before by adding a shorthanded marker near the end of the game.
“Kenny Bradford and Scott Prier did well against them,” explained Hamlin. “We had a 3-1 lead and we kept it. Our special teams put them back on their heels.”
Kenny Bradford’s four assists took over the CIS scoring lead among defensemen, now totalling 25 points. It was the third time this season the Lancers scored three power play goals; an enormous contribution toward the 8-4 win on night two.
The Stingers encountered many troubles. Robin Billingham was replaced by Alexandre St Arnaud in game one after allowing 5 goals on 28 shots. St Arnaud faired a little better by allowing just one goal on the 11 shots he faced.
On the second night, St Arnaud started the game but didn’t last the opening period when he allowed three goals on the first seven shots he faced.
Billingham stepped in with just over six minutes left to play in the first, but five goals for the second night in a row was a déjà vu he would’ve been glad to have escaped. Billingham leads the OUA with 13 losses this season as the goaltending perils worsened from the night before and the Stingers dropped their eighth game in 11 outings.
Although the defensive side faltered, Stingers forward Olivier Hinse lived up to the billing and put on a show at South Windsor Arena.
Hinse was highly anticipated because he was in the hunt for the goal scoring lead with OUA East rival Joe Pleckaitis of the Carleton Ravens. The third-year forward scored in both games against the Lancers last weekend and now leads the entire OUA conference with 17 goals. He is also tied for the national lead with TJ Foster and Joel Hickmott, both from the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
There are three games left for the Lancers to play on the road starting with the Brock Badgers on Friday, January 23. The 9-10-2 Badgers are in fifth place in the OUA West, and have had a rough start in 2015.
With just a win over Queen’s in 2015, the Badgers are 1-3-1 after the holiday break. Out of all teams in the West, their remaining schedule is an albatross to endure. For their next three contests, the Badgers welcome the Mustangs, the Lancers, and the Warriors; currently the top trio of the OUA West.
While things may seem lighter against the Golden Hawks and Varsity Blues afterwards, the season’s finale will be an arduous task of entering South Windsor Arena to overthrow a team that has been 7-2-1 on home ice.
Underscore that with the storyline of the month; playoff implications.
It is a desperate time ahead for the Badgers as they aspire to a greater finish than their current fifth place.
The Lancers will follow up with a game against the Laurier Golden Hawks on January 24. When the teams last met in October, the Lancers triumphed with a 5-2 win, foreshadowing the great winning streak that gave the Lancers their most successful start in University of Windsor history.
While the Lancers surged to the top of the OUA, and frequently contended for CIS Top 10 rankings throughout the season, the Hawks have had their wings clipped by losing streaks that have gone as high as six games.
The 7-13-1 Golden Hawks have spiralled downwards in the West division and have had a troubled season. If they can muster a win against the nationally contending Lancers, it may be a bright spot to an otherwise black eye of a season.