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March 9, 2003

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MEN'S ICE-HOCKEY

Lakehead Thunderwolves - 6, Toronto Varsity Blues - 5

A goal by team Captain Joel Scherban gave the No. 3 Lakehead Thunderwolves a wild 6-5 double overtime win over the No. 7 Toronto Varsity Blues in the Queen's Cup Bronze Medal game Sunday afternoon at the Thompson Arena in London. 

 The third place finish at the Queen's Cup means Lakehead will advance to the CIS University Cup National Championships which will be held in Fredericton, New Brunswick March 20-23. Queen's Cup Finalists York and UQTR also qualified for the University Cup from the OUA. 

It was a very close game with both goaltenders putting on a show. Lakehead's Grant McCune and Toronto's Jamie Bruno came up with a bushel of spectacular saves between them. Lakehead was led by Joel Scherban with three goals while their other markers came from Jeff Richards, Robert Hillier, and Chris Shaffer. Toronto was led by Steve Hoar with two goals with George Trifon, Tyler Middlebrook, and Steve Murphy scoring the other Toronto goals. 

 The first period was very fast with a lot of good scoring opportunities for both teams. An early first period Toronto penalty proved costly as Lakehead's Captain Joel Scherban scored on the powerplay at 1:24, after knocking it in during a goalmouth scramble. Lakehead goaltender Grant McCune came up with a big stop off Toronto's Mike Hutchison a minute later. Lakehead then applied the pressure, forcing Toronto goalie Jamie Bruno to make a series of good saves. Then, Toronto's Steve Hoar knocked in a rebound at 5:43 off a shot from the point by Aaron Wilson. Toronto quickly jumped into the lead when George Trifon knocked in a rebound at 6:08. 

Lakehead's McCune then made a great leg save to keep Toronto from taking a 3-1 lead. McCune made another good save of Toronto's Jeff Todd who came streaking in alone. Toronto kept up the pressure, and McCune came up with more big stops. Lakehead applied some late period pressure but couldn't beat Bruno. Lakehead outshot Toronto 14-11 in the first period. 

Toronto Captain Steve Murphy opened the scoring in the second at 1:54, giving the Blues a 3-1 lead. Toronto's Bruno made a great save of Scherban at the 7:00 mark. Lakehead's Jeff Richards brought his team within one at 6:49 when his centering pass deflected off the skate of a Toronto defenseman. Richards tied the score 20 seconds later when he took the puck in and blasted a puck from just inside the blue line that beat Bruno stickside at 7:09. Then Toronto's Steve Hoar notched his second of the game at 8:43 to give the lead back to the Blues. Lakehead applied some pressure during a powerplay but couldn't beat Bruno again. Lakehead's Grant McCune came up with the save of the game on a Toronto two on one when he stretched his leg out and stopped George Trifon from popping it into the empty net with a toe save. Lakehead outshot Toronto 11-7 in the second period. 

The first five minutes of the third featured a lot of Toronto forechecking, as the Blues were playing defensively to contain Lakehead. Lakehead then began to put on the pressure. Bruno came up with a big save off a hard shot by Lakehead's Erik Lodge at 6:10. He followed up with more good stops off Lakehead's Murray Magill and Joel Scherban. Toronto had a little flurry of their own, but McCune was up to the task. During a Lakehead powerplay at the midway mark, Bruno made three great saves off Lakehead's Mike Jacobsen and Chris Shaffer. Then Toronto Captain Steve Murphy jumped on a hard rebound and broke in alone on a breakaway on Lakehead's McCune, but McCune came up big again. McCune made another good save off Toronto's Mike Nason a minute later. Lakehead's Chris Shaffer tied it at 14:41 when he buried a loose puck upstairs on the backhand by Bruno. Robert Hillier made it 5-4 Lakehead at 17:32 when he launched a rocket past Bruno. Toronto then applied intense pressure trying to get the tying goal. Lakehead's McCune made an incredible save off a wide open George Trifon with 1:49 left. Toronto then pulled Bruno in the last minute and Toronto's Tyler Middlebrook knocked in the puck in a goalmouth scramble to tie it at 19:44. Lakehead outshot Toronto 16-9 in the third period. 

The first five minutes of the first overtime saw both teams checking each other closely with neither getting a great chance. Lakehead's Chris Shaffer had a good chance with 3:30 left when he shot just wide. Toronto's Bruno made a good stop right after off Lakehead's Shawn Perring. Toronto's Wes Booker fired a hard shot that was stopped by McCune with 2:35 left. Booker had another chance with 20 seconds left, but just rolled it wide. Lakehead outshot Toronto 3-1 in the first overtime. 

The second overtime ebbed back and forth. Toronto's George Trifon had an early opportunity in the second overtime but Grant McCune was up to the task. McCune made another nice pad save soon after during a scramble in front of his goal. Then, Lakehead's Scherban just missed when he rolled it just wide of the Toronto goal. Toronto went back up the ice and McCune made a big save off the Blues' Nason. Lakehead's Richards then missed a great opportunity when he blasted a shot just wide of Bruno. Lakehead defenseman Matt Kenny then blocked a sure goal by Toronto's Tyler Middlebrook. Toronto's Hoar then missed another great chance when he slid the puck just wide past the Lakehead goal. McCune then gloved a shot by Toronto's Ian Malcolm. Toronto's Bruno then stopped a shot by Lakehead's Richards. Lakehead Captain Joel Scherban finally put it away for the Thunderwolves at 12:21 when he made no mistake on a pass from linemate Jeff Richards. 

Lakehead Head Coach Pete Belliveau said his team showed a lot of character against a tough opponent. "It was a great game, and full credit to Toronto, they really took it to us. But, we were down 3-1, then 4-3, then Toronto tied it near the end of regulation and we didn't panic. We bent this game, but we didn't break. Bottom line, we're going to the Nationals." 
 

First Period:
1) Lakehead: 1:24  Scherban, from Shaffer, Duce  PP
2) Toronto:  5:43  Hoar, from Wilson, Booker
3) Toronto:  6:08  Trifon, from Murphy, Middlebrook

Second Period:
1) Toronto:  1:54  Murphy, Barrett
2) Lakehead: 6:49  Scherban
3) Lakehead: 7:09  Richards 
4) Toronto: 8:43  Hoar, Todd, Barbowski

Third Period:
1) Lakehead: 14:41   Shaffer, Hillier
2) Lakehead:  17:32  Hillier, Shaffer
3) Toronto:  19:44  Middlebrook, Malcolm

Second Overtime:
1)  Lakehead:  12:21  Scherban, Richards

Source: Mike Aylward - thunderwolveshockey.com