Cashing in on strong forechecking
By John Dinner
The next stretch of games for the hockey Mustangs are crucial for determining positions in the Far West standings. On Wednesday night they got off on the right foot by disposing of the seventh-ranked Laurier Golden Hawks 5-2.
The key for the Mustangs so far this year have been their starts. If they score first they have won, if their opponent scores first they have lost. On Wednesday, Western got out to the start they needed to defeat the young, but highly skilled Golden Hawks.
"I was really happy with way we came out in the first. We didn't score right away but we set the tone," said Western head coach Barry Martinelli. "The 3-0 lead [at the end of the first] was the difference in the game."
Western, who will be relying on a strong forecheck to get their wins, came out of the gate crashing and banging, resulting in a lot of opportunities and three goals. Two of the goals were by captain Jeff Petrie, making it three goals in two games, with the other coming off the stick of defenceman Cam Law on the power-play.
The strong forecheck forced the young Golden Hawks to make a few key mistakes, resulting in goals and deflating the team on a whole.
"We didn't have any intensity or commitment [Wednesday night]. They completely out-played us in the first two periods," said first-year Laurier head coach Tony Martindale. "I believe the Far West to be the toughest division in the CIAU and we've got to learn that we can't take any nights off if we want to win. Hopefully we learned that [Wednesday night]."
The road doesn't get any easier for the Golden Hawks as they will face Windsor in two of their next three games, with the third being against Western in their own rink.
"We'll see a lot of what we saw [Wednesday night]. They were all over us on the forecheck and I expect Windsor to do the same," Martindale said.
Goal scorers on the night for Western were Petrie with two, Law with two, and Todd Bradley, who continues to provide a scoring punch from a checking role.
"Our forecheck is key for us in winning games," Martinelli said. "We're creating offensive opportunities off the forecheck and that's important."
Western will head up the 401 tonight to face the Waterloo Warriors in hopes of stringing together two wins for the first time this season.
"We know .500 hockey is not good enough, especially in this division," Petrie said. "The next few games are really important for us, but if we look too far ahead, we might trip up."