Volume 91, Issue 54
Wednesday, December 3, 1997
Jolly in the ol' Far West
EAT GLASS PRETTY BOY. Mustang rookie Chris George lays his body into a Waterloo Warrior player in this season's varsity hockey action.
By John Dinner
The Far West division hockey standings are as snug as a bug in a rug at the end of the first half, that is, except for the nationally-ranked Windsor Lancers who seem prepared to squash them all.
Finishing the first 12 games of the season, Windsor (11-0-1) has an eight point lead over the second place Mustangs (7-4-1), with Waterloo (5-3-4) and Laurier (2-9-1) bringing up the rear.
Coming into the season with eight rookies, Western coach Barry Martinelli felt a 7-5 record at the break would be ideal, with the team hopefully rolling into the second half. Martinelli has gotten his wish, finishing the first half with 15 points, riding a four-game unbeaten streak and standing alone in second place.
Assistant coach Clarke Singer feels the results are from hard work and players taking matters into their own hands.
"The youngsters have really stepped it up and the defence has really begun to come into its own," he said. "Also the play of our top line of (Matt) Gray, (Mike) Allain and (Damon) Hardy have really got this team going."
With the solid play of goaltender CJ Denomme, the growing confidence of the youngsters, the on-ice leadership of the veterans and solid play by the top line, Western has become an established contender and plans to be a real threat come playoff time.
Laurier coach Wayne Gowing, entering his 25th year of coaching, points to a lack of natural goal scorers on his roster as one of the reasons Laurier has not faired well up to this point in the season.
"I really like our guy's work ethic and determination," he said, "but we were really counting on our second and third-year guys for some scoring, but that just hasn't happened."
Ineffective scoring seems to be the trend for most of the Far West division, where tight checking and solid goaltending are the keys to winning. Coach Don McKee of the Waterloo Warriors also says that scoring is at a premium in this division.
"We have tied all three of the other teams (in the division)," he said, "so it's not for a lack of effort, but a lack of scoring."
Both Laurier and Waterloo lost their top goal producers to graduation last year and both knew it would be tough to gain those kinds of players back.
This is where Windsor surprised a lot of people. Having lost two top scorers from last year, the Lancers appeared to be in the same boat Laurier and Waterloo found themselves. However, with excellent recruiting and the improvement of some returning players, they boast the second best record and a No. 4 ranking among Canadian universities.
"They are the surprise of the division," says Gowing. "With the number of players they lost last year, they have really filled the holes and are quite solid throughout."
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