Volume 91, Issue 56

Thursday, January 8, 1998

El nino


New showcase of hockey talent

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
THIS MAN'S GOT THE PUCK ON A STRING. Mustang forward Joe Cooke, seen here in regular season action versus Laurentian, was one of two representatives from Western at the inaugural OUA all-star hockey game.

By John Dinner

Gazette Staff

The inaugural Ontario University Hockey All-Star game was held Tuesday night in Toronto with shining performances from Western's only two selected players.

The game was divided into the East-West Conferences, with the East taking home bragging rights after a 9-7 victory over their Western Ontario competition. Representing Western were forward Jeff Mancini and defenceman Joe Cooke, both deeming the opportunity "a great honour."

Coach Barry Martinelli, who was an assistant coach for the West division, was pleased with the selection of his two players, but had hoped for a larger Western presence at the game. "Joe and Jeff are two very deserving players who belong at these types of games," he said, "but at the same time I think Damon Hardy could have been selected for his play in the first half, as well as Rob Schweyer, had he not gotten injured." The consistency of Cooke and Mancini's play over the first half, along with the leadership roles they have on the 'Stangs, were just two of the reasons the pair could not be overlooked.

Cooke felt experience is the most important aspect of games like these. "The opportunity to play with guys you've been playing against for a couple of years is exciting," he said. "The thought of just being invited to a game with this much talent is an honour."

Guelph coach and head coach of the West All-Stars, Graham Wise, was extremely excited about the prospects of a competitive game that would showcase the talents of the league and provide exposure for the university game.

"All 26 NHL teams were faxed about the game, as well as the head offices of the IHL, AHL and other smaller pro leagues," he said before the event. "We hope to fill the stands and play a game not typically associated with All-Star games. It should be fast and competitive, as there has long been a controversy over which division was better."

Wise couldn't have been more right as the game had a playoff atmosphere, but with the wide-open play of an All-Star game. It boasted some of Canada's top university hockey players with seven of the top 12 leading scorers in the nation playing, as well as four of the five best goalies.

Mancini contributed to the losing cause, playing on a line with Windsor's Chris Gignac and Kevin Pucovsky, managing a goal and an assist on the night. "It was a great honour being paired with two great players and that the coaches felt I fit on a line with them," Mancini commented.

Cooke was paired defensively with Laurier's only representative Bob McQuat, forming arguably the best defensive pairing on the ice. That, however, did not last the whole game, as McQuat was given a 10-minute misconduct and thrown from the game.

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

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