Briercrest comes up short against Augustana as Dufresne, Epp, and Gasmo are honoured in final home g

Posted: February 6, 2016

Some bittersweet history was made Saturday afternoon as fifth-year graduating student-athletes Josh Dufresne, Brennan Gasmo, and Taylor Epp played their final home game for Briercrest. Their opponent, the Augustana Vikings, looked to provide another formidable challenge in this second game of the weekend homestand.

The pace was quick as first period action got underway. Brennan Gasmo, Chad Davidson, and Ben Feere cycled the puck well and drew an early penalty, but Briercrest wouldn't find the back of the net with the man advantage. The Vikings struck twice and took the lead into the first intermission.

Both teams came out playing physically in the second period. Briercrest shrugged off a third Augustana goal and focused on the task of each individual shift. Mark Langford laminated a Viking to the glass with a clean hit, and Christian Mueller was sharp in keeping the game from getting out of reach. This proved to be pivotal, because moments later Micah Abbott broke up a threatening rush and sent the puck up ice, where Mark MacKinnon set up Taylor Epp for one of his trademark snapshots to get the home team on the board.

Intensity ramped up at this point, as Briercrest got a lift from the goal while Augustana sensed they had another dogfight on their hands. Luke Syrenne streaked across the ice on the backcheck, and Mueller made a big save on a dangerous chance. Two powerplay goals had the guests up 5-1 early in the third period, and they were hoping the hosts would finally give up, but it would not happen. Briercrest kept skating, blocking shots, and hitting as if the game were tied. Their efforts bore fruit at 9:06 of the final frame as Josiah Friesen found enough fumes at the end of his shift to skate in and fire the puck at goaltender Andy Williams. It found its way through and the score was 5-2. A couple minutes after that, Josh Dufresne carried the puck hard to the net and Josh Peters jammed in a rebound to make it 5-3. Fans were in the midst of celebration when a scant sixteen seconds elapsed and Jacob Baribeau and Dufresne set up Epp for another goal, cutting the lead to 5-4. Briercrest skated tirelessly and fired more rubber at Williams, but the visitors found a heartbreaking insurance goal and iced it 6-4.

It was an emotional final home game for the graduating players, and a team effort to be proud of despite coming a couple bounces shy of victory. Taylor Epp took over sole possession of third in all-time Briercrest scoring, passing Matt Bothwell. Brennan Gasmo put in another heart-and-soul effort and was rewarded Player of the Game honours. Josh Dufresne capped an exemplary career as Briercrest's captain. All three of these men exemplify the value of Briercrest's hockey program in their character, their ability, and their love for God.

For the team, today's result was a microcosm of the program's present state. They came up just short, but still showed the skill, work ethic, and composure needed to be successful in a very competitive league. The presence of these qualities throughout the lineup gives Briercrest's supporters every reason to be optimistic about the future, despite the departure of such outstanding student-athletes. 

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