Hockey team streak reaches crazy eight
By John Dinner
With the puzzle pieces all seemingly in place, the Western Mustang hockey team has gone on quite a roll.
With two wins this week, a 4-1 triumph over York at Thompson Arena on Thursday and a 5-4 squeaker on Saturday over Laurentian, the 'Stangs upped their winning streak to four and their record to 11-4-1.
On Thursday night against York, the team faced its first real challenge since the break, as York boasted an identical win-loss record. With a balanced attack that has been the strength of the team to date, Western was able to dominate from the opening face-off, controlling the momentum and coasting to the victory.
York head coach Graham Wise felt coming into this game that not only did the two teams have matching records, their styles were also very similar. "They beat us in our own rink earlier in the season, and we felt coming in that we matched up very well against them."
Playing with a confident attitude, the Mustangs opened up an early two-goal lead in the first period with goals from senior pivot Mike Allain and freshman Shaun Fairweather, who notched a shorthanded goal. Other goal scorers were Jeff Mancini who converted a beautiful two-on-one pass from Chris George and Craig Watson, who scored on a tremendous individual effort. Coach Barry Martinelli felt the third goal was key. "Getting that third goal gave us a nice cushion and allowed us to focus on winning the game."
After the game, Wise said the depth of the team was essential to Western's success. "They dominated offensively from the outset," he said. "Coach Martinelli got a solid 60 minutes from every single one of his troops."
The second game of the week was against the Laurentian Voyageurs, a team Western beat quite handily 7-0 earlier in the season. Carrying a four-goal lead late in the third period on goals by Mancini, Rob Schweyer, Todd Bradley and defencemen Matt Munro and Kevin Murnaghan, Western nearly lost. "The team got on the bus with about six minutes left," Martinelli said.
Sophomore winger Rob Schweyer agreed with his coach. "We just got too comfortable with our lead. It seemed as though we started to think about the long trip home before the game was even over." Scoring three goals in the final six minutes, the Voyageurs made it close despite being soundly dominated for 55 minutes.
After these two latest victories, the Mustangs have strung together an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) and have become serious threats to the Ontario title. Rob Schweyer has been a major factor in the team's run, returning to the team after missing the better part of the first half. "Missing that much time was real tough. But our guys really stepped up, especially the rookies and we have put together four solid lines that can put the puck home, making us that much more difficult to beat."
Tomorrow night Western will travel to Kitchener and take on their division rival, the Laurier Golden Hawks.