Volume 91, Issue 70

Tuesday, February 3, 1998

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SPORTS
 

Blues ice streaking Mustangs



©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
STEP ON A CRACK. BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK. Mustang Aaron Rice [18] watched carefully for cracks in the ice to keep their 11-game winning streak alive, but still fell through thin ice on Saturday in a 1-0 defeat to Toronto.


By John Dinner

Gazette Staff

The streak is over! After extending their unbeaten record to 11 with a 4-4 tie with nationally-ranked Guelph on Thursday, Western's hockey honeymoon ended with a lacklustre 1-0 defeat at the hands of the lowly Toronto Varsity Blues.

Playing what Western coach Barry Martinelli called the strongest, deepest and most talented team in the OUA, the 'Stangs showed on Thursday they could skate with the elite of university hockey teams. Playing an aggressive, physical style, the Mustangs opened up an early two goal lead in the first period with goals by Ryan Treacy and Jeff Petrie.

In the second period, the Gryphons answered back with three goals of their own and it wasn't until there were 29 seconds left in the period that Shaun Fairweather was able to get the equalizer on the power play.

In the third period, Guelph answered back again – regaining a one-goal lead until Joe Birch's point shot found its way to the back of the net for the game's final goal.

Martinelli felt this game showed the team is not one-dimensional, as the second line really stepped up their play. "I talked to them (Fairweather, Petrie and Todd Bradley) prior to the game and we know as a group to be successful we need balance," he said. And the trio answered the bell on this night as they counted for five points on the evening.

Gryphons coach Marlin Muylaert was also pleased with his team's effort and was happy to get the point on the road. "We'd been in a bit of slump since Christmas, but this game gave us some confidence and I think we were able to find our identity," he said. "Western has a very solid team that plays real aggressive and I'm happy with the way our guys responded."

Despite showing themselves and many observers that they belong in the upper echelon of teams, they were not able to bring their streak to an even dozen. The below .500 Blues skated into town and left with a hand-wrapped gift in a 1-0 victory. The emotional hangover seemed to really affect Western as they played an uninspired game that lacked intensity. Veteran defenceman Cam Law pointed to the possibility of over-confidence going into the game. "It was pretty frustrating out there. We came in with a lot of confidence, but I think they brought us down to their level and we just couldn't overcome it."

The loss, however, could be seen as a blessing. By coming back down to earth, the incentive will now be to prove the unbeaten streak was not a fluke and that they do belong with the elites of the OUA. Western's test will come Thursday night as they host Windsor in a critical first game of a home in home series.




To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998