Briercrest's comeback efforts fall just short against Concordia

Posted: February 21, 2015

It was a nail biter in the end, but Briercrest didn't get the weekend sweep, falling 7-6 to the visiting Concordia Thunder.

Concordia brought an angry brand of intensity from the opening face-off, and it seemed to take Briercrest by surprise. The visitors earned an early power play opportunity, and capitalized quickly to grab the lead. One of their more skilled forwards was given five minutes and a game misconduct for a check to the head of Micah Abbott (who was okay), and Matt Melo made the guests pay, tipping home a Dan Stollery point shot to even the score. Feeding off the chirpiness of their coach, Concordia's bench was cautioned by the referee as their complaints failed to stay within a PG-13 rating. Briercrest, however, would show some complacency after their equalizer, allowing a needless offensive zone penalty and bad defensive pinch to snowball into two quick goals for the guests, putting Briercrest in a 3-1 hole heading into the first intermission.

The second period opened with a disheartening goal for Concordia, and it frayed Briercrest's composure momentarily as retaliation after a hit put them in the penalty box. They managed to shake it off, however, and Erik Robitaille and Aaron Armstrong fed Manny Schellenberg for a tap in to close the gap to 4-2. The momentum was on Briercrest's side, but an unfortunate bounce led to a Thunder goal and a palpable sense of relief on the visitor's bench. A five-on-three power play for the guests right after this looked like it might put the game out of reach. As has been the case so often before, however, Briercrest showed resiliency - killing off the first penalty and then getting back in the game with a shorthanded goal off the stick of Jacob Baribeau. Once again, the visitors were able to restore the three goal lead and went into the final break up 6-3.

Schellenberg struck again to open the third period and stoked the hopes of a comeback, and it clearly got into the heads of the guests as they took a series of silly penalties. Briercrest scored again on the power play, and they were within one. Concordia deserves credit for refocussing after that, and they regained their composure and added a seventh goal. Stephen Langford scored on a great shot with the goalie pulled to narrow the score back to one, but the visitors were able to hang on for the wild 7-6 win.

Erik Robitaille played a great game in perhaps his final one as a Clipper, and was awarded Player of the Game honours. Kegan Bowman, with a hat trick, got the nod for the guests. Manny Schellenberg also put an exclamation mark on a great career as a Clipper, getting three points to move into seventh all time in Briercrest scoring. 

The weekend provided something of a microcosm of their season as a whole- a great win in the first game, and coming just short in the end. Despite the sting of this loss, the season as a whole is a very certain and well-earned step in the right direction. 

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