Hockey fight ends in split
By John Dinner
"Win or lose, it's your decision!" That was the challenge being issued to the men's hockey team by head coach Barry Martinelli after his team split a home-and-home series with the first place Windsor Lancers.
Coming into the weekend, the Mustangs had a chance to close the gap between themselves and the Lancers to three points with only three weeks left in the regular season.
On Thursday night, Western narrowed the margin to five with a 4-1 victory at Thompson Arena. Bouncing back from their first loss in 11 games against the Toronto Blues, the 'Stangs were able to use a strong forecheck to dictate the tempo of the evenly matched contest. With no scoring in the first period, Western was the first to register on the scoreboard with a rocket coming off the stick of Matt Gray half way through the second period. Windsor, however, was able to return the favour with about five minutes left in the period on a scramble in front of goaltender C.J. Denomme. It was just over a minute later when Western was able to pull even and get the eventual game-winner from freshman winger Chris George who converted a beautiful pass from Mike Allain.
Martinelli felt the second goal was the defining moment of the game, "We showed a lot of composure after they scored. Getting that second goal was big for us. It showed our guys that we could beat them."
In the third, the 'Stangs continued their domination by limiting Lancer scoring opportunities and cashing in with goals from defenceman Joe Cook and winger Damon Hardy.
In the second game of the series, Western was unable to dominate like they did on Thursday and watched any hopes of closing in on Windsor disappear with a 4-0 loss knocking the team back to seven points behind in the standings.
Windsor head coach Rick Cranker felt it was the bounces that determined the outcomes of the two games. "On Thursday [Western] was able to capitalize on their opportunities and I think [Friday] we were able to do the same."
Trailing 2-0, as a result of some bad luck and a shot from the red line, the Mustangs were still within striking distance entering the third period. However, some questionable calls by the referee resulted in a total mental breakdown on the part of the 'Stangs, which gave the Lancers five straight power-play opportunities, scoring on two of them to put the game out of reach.
Assistant captain Jeff Petrie saw a couple of reasons the 'Stangs were not able to repeat Thursday's performance. "We didn't stick to our game plan," he said. "And we took a lot of penalties. It's tough to come back when we're shorthanded for half a period."
With two games at home this week, Western will now look to solidify second spot in the far West as they take on Brock and Ryerson this Saturday and Sunday.