Mustangs play without top dog
By James Pugsley
The last thing Mustang hockey coach Barry Martinelli wanted for his 45th birthday Friday was a loss. Unfortunately, nobody listened.
In fact, it was the opposition that got most of the gifts.
Upon arriving in Waterloo to play the 13-3 Warriors, Martinelli was immediately given a present he wished he could have returned. Officials from the Warriors noted that Jason Heywood, Western's top centre, was to be removed from the lineup because of an incident which occurred against Laurier last Wednesday night.
On that evening Heywood was given a minor penalty and a game misconduct for severely slashing a Laurier player. The official clarified after the game that the penalty was to come without a suspension and Heywood was filed as committing a G23 offence. What was not examined by Western, or the officials, was the Ontario Hockey Association's new classification of a G23 offence into a minimum three-game suspension immediately making Heywood, Western's leading scorer for most of the year, ineligible to play.
Warrior management didn't hesitate to remind Martinelli of the regulations Friday and Heywood spent the evening watching his teammates lose 5-3 in the dark confines of the Columbia Icefield.
With Waterloo coming off its third loss of the season, 6-2 to York Wednesday, a victory over the second-place Mustangs became a priority for Warrior coach Don McKee.
"We haven't seen each other play since October and we had heard their defence and goaltending was solid," McKee said. "We knew we would be OK if we could force their defence early."
In the first period penalties became a major issue Waterloo served nine minutes, including a major to goalie Joe Harris for slashing. The Mustangs, unable to capitalize on their chances, watched the Warriors take control of the game by scoring the first of two power-play goals with only 31 seconds remaining in the period.
"They got the bounces, we didn't," said Western forward Ryan Treacy, who scored one of Western's power-play goals. "We wanted to beat these guys real bad and we played our hearts out."
Harris, who stopped 25 shots, was glorious on a number of occasions but became concerned when Western closed the score to 4-3 in the dying minutes of the third period.
The Warriors outshot the Mustangs 29-28 and took advantage of some costly mistakes in the neutral zone which resulted in Waterloo goals.
"The effort was definitely there. It just seems that the mistakes we make, the other teams capitalize on," Mustang defenceman Mike Shewan said.
Western travels to Laurier tomorrow before a second crucial confrontation with Waterloo at Thompson Arena on Friday.
ROCKING HORSE. Waterloo goalie Joe Harris shoves a Western forward during Friday's 5-3 Warrior victory. Harris received a major penalty for his assault.