Guelph, Ont. – One of the headline events across the university sport landscape every year is right around the corner, as the 10th annual Frosty Mug is set to stir up some sensational surroundings at the Sleeman Centre. The tradition of this men’s hockey masterpiece will pen the latest chapter on Thursday night when the Laurier Golden Hawks visit the Guelph Gryphons; a game that will also serve as this week’s Marquee Matchup, powered by Planters Canada.
The latest encounter between the Hawks and Gryphs marks the fifth time in Frosty Mug folklore that the purple and gold have entered as Guelph’s combatants, but history hasn’t been on their side through the first four. Guelph has proven victorious in each of their previous Frosty Mug matchups, with the latest win coming via a dominant 5-0 showing in 2018.
Captain Scott Simmonds (Uxbridge, Ont.) got the festivities started last year just under four minutes into the game and the home team didn’t look back from there. Another two goals in the opening frame gave Guelph the comfortable cushion, before Seth Swenson and Josh McFadden capped off the scoring in the second and third, respectively.
While both sides entered last year’s affair in a tie for top spot in the division, the same cannot be said this time around. While both teams remained deadlocked in the West, their rank has them placed sixth in their division, with each side picking up 21 points in their 22 games thus far.
For Guelph, their season has seen plenty of ups and downs, with their lowest stretch coming in the form of a five-game losing streak. The last of those losses came against their Frosty Mug foes, when the Hawks used goals from Mac Clutsam (Flamborough, Ont.) and Jeremy Pullara (Vaughan, Ont.) to pick up the 2-0 win. Like Guelph, Laurier has also experienced a roller coaster season so far, getting in the hole early with a five-game skid to open their campaign. Both sides have righted the ship over recent weeks; however, and are entering Thursday’s tilt on modest two-game winning streaks.
For the visiting Hawks to maintain their recent winning ways, they will be looking to their trio of top-scorers to continue leading the charge. Forwards Will Cook (Port Stanley, Ont.) and Christian Mroczkowski (Kitchener, Ont.), along with defenceman Kyle Jenkins (Brampton, Ont.) check in with 15 points apiece, with Cook’s eight goals pacing the pack. Beyond those three, the team does boast some balance in their scoring attack, with a total of eight players recording double-digit points on the year.
As a whole, it has been tough for Laurier to find the back of the net this year, ranking 17th in scoring (2.77 goals per game). They do, however, boast a strong special teams game, including a fourth-ranked powerplay (23.0%) and seventh-ranked penalty kill (87.1%) that can help make a difference for the purple and gold. They can also turn to their play between the pipes to navigate their way to victory on Thursday, as Tyler Fassl (Sauble Beach, Ont.) has anchored their goaltending to the tune of a sixth-ranked team save percentage (.911) and seventh-ranked goals-against average (2.68).
Similarly, Guelph has relied more on their special teams and back end to carry them to their 11 wins on the year, as they rank 14th in goals per game (2.86). Their .921 SV% and 2.48 GAA as a team are both good for top-five marks in the conference behind the steady play of Evan Cormier (Bowmanville, Ont.) and Andrew Masters (Kitchener, Ont.).
If the team wants to provide a little more insurance in front of their crease protectors, they will look to some of last year’s top Frosty Mug performers to repeat their productive play. Simmonds has once again shown his ability to lead by example, racking up seven goals and 15 assists on the year for a team-high 22 points. Cody Thompson (Mississauga, Ont.), who recorded three assists in the 2018 matchup, has flexed his goal-scoring muscle this season, leading the club with 11 tallies on the year. Guelph’s next two leading point-producers – Todd Winder (Uxbridge, Ont.) and Marc Stevens (Turkey Point, Ont.) – each notched two points for the Frosty Mug victors last year and will aim to add to their combined 31 points this year, as well.
The stakes will once again be high when the two teams hit the Sleeman Centre ice on Thursday, and while the Gryphons will be shooting for a repeat of last year and a chance to improve their Frosty Mug record to 7-3 overall, Laurier will be shooting to tip the scales in their favour this time around in front of the jam-packed crowd.
Fans who aren’t in the stands to cheer on their respective sides can catch all the action LIVE on Thursday at 7:00pm on oua.tv or via the oua.tv app on Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.