Thunder trod asunder- Briercrest shuts out Concordia 3-0

Posted: February 20, 2015

The Briercrest Clippers put together quite a performance Friday night prior to honouring two graduating student-athletes. Although they are playing for pride rather than playoffs on this final weekend, the heart and determination on display were impressive as Briercrest managed a historic win against the Concordia Thunder.

First period action saw both teams skating hard and playing solid defensively. Shots were scarce in the first ten minutes as the real estate in prime scoring areas was tightly contested at both ends. Briercrest stuck to this game plan, and it began to bear fruit in the latter half of the period as Concordia took three consecutive penalties out of laziness and lack of discipline. On the second powerplay opportunity, Josh Peters and Aaron Armstrong set up Taylor Epp, who rifled home the opening goal of the game. Concordia's struggle to maintain their composure was evident shortly afterward, as one of their defensemen was given a 10 minute misconduct for berating the referee. The teams headed into the first intermission with Briercrest up 1-0.

The second period began with a crucial penalty kill for Briercrest, and Concordia crashed the net early looking for the equalizer. BJ Pirus came to the rescue, swiping the puck off the goal line to deny the guests. Having withstood this flurry of pressure, Briercrest went on the attack, with Armstrong putting a great pass on the stick of Epp, who should perhaps trademark the laserbeam of a snapshot in his possession. The puck went top corner and Briercrest's lead was 2-0. 

If there was one moment in this game that perfectly sums up the difference that exists between Briercrest's approach to hockey compared to that of some of their opponents, it came shortly after Epp's second marker. After some incidental contact resulted in Mark Langford being given a tripping penalty, he skated over to the Concordia player who had fallen to make sure he was alright. The linesman, thinking that Langford was going to yell at or shove his opponent, scrambled to get between them before realizing that it was a purely sportsmanlike gesture on Mark's part. This misunderstanding speaks to how unexpected and rare it is to find the game played with the kind of integrity shown game-in game-out by Briercrest. 

Taking a 2-0 lead into the final period, Briercrest refused to simply run out the clock. The fans were treated to a textbook example of closing out a game, as the Clippers outshot Concordia 13-4 in the third. Joachim Hanberg added a beautiful insurance goal, taking the feed from Langford and Dan Stollery and fighting off a check to score top shelf. When the final buzzer sounded, Barkman arena erupted as Briercrest won 3-0. With 23 saves Christian Mueller, and a very complete team effort, were credited with the second shutout in Briercrest's ACAC history, and the first since Shane Marsh in 2005-06. Players of the game were Manny Schellenberg for Briercrest and Rhys Hadfield for the Thunder.

After the game, Manny Schellenberg shared some of his thoughts on the victory in his final weekend: "It was a good team effort and I thought that everyone gave 100%. Muellzy played unreal and it was really fun to play in- good attitude on the ice and off the ice too."

The rematch, and last game of the Briercrest season, starts tomorrow at 2:00pm.

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