Mustangs block Brown on route to final
Graham dominates the Badgers
Denomme backstops resurgence
Badgers feel Western's wrath
Denomme backstops resurgence
By John Dinner
Do or die. Their backs are up against the wall.
Use any cliche you want, the fact remains the Mustang men's hockey team can't lose another game.
Heading into this weekend's action, the Mustangs sat two points out of a playoff spot. They were well aware that to stay in contention they had to win both games, on Friday against the Ryerson Rams and Saturday against the Brock Badgers.
Playing desperate hockey, the Mustangs were able to keep their hopes alive as they beat Ryerson 4-1 and then shut down the Badgers with a 2-0 victory, both games being away from the friendly confines of Thompson Arena.
"We played really well defensively in both games and that helped with our offence," said veteran forward Todd Bradley. "We knew we needed both wins and we weren't too concerned with who scored or who got playing time as long as we won."
This team focus translated into contributions at both ends from everyone and offensive output from the unlikely sources of the second and third lines.
"We're still having trouble scoring goals, but we really clamped down defensively," said fourth-year goaltender C.J. Denomme. "As of right now there's no tomorrow."
Brock head coach Murray Nystrom, whose troops are also in the middle of a playoff battle of their own, had nothing but praise for the Mustangs.
"Denomme played extremely well. He held them in and allowed their two-goal lead to stand," Nystrom said. "They seem to have all aspects of their game working for them and that's good for them considering the importance of the rest of their games."
Western's improved play has come at the right time and coincides with the improved play of netminder Denomme, said Western head coach Barry Martinelli.
"Saturday was probably the best I've seen C.J. play since 1996," Martinelli said. "When he's playing the way he can it gives the rest of the guys confidence. They don't feel they have to play perfect because they know he'll bail them out and that seems to allow them to play better."
Despite the two wins, the Mustangs failed to make up ground on the Waterloo Warriors and Laurier Golden Hawks with both teams also going undefeated on the weekend. This leaves the Mustangs still two points behind the Warriors and four behind Laurier two teams Western will face in the final week of the season.
"Right now we're concentrating on Waterloo. They do all the small things and that's what we're going to have to do to get the win," Bradley said. "Basically our whole season boils down to Wednesday when we play Waterloo. It's do or die."
The Warriors will arrive in London for a 7:30 p.m. showdown at Thompson Arena with the Mustangs starting to click on all cylinders in what has essentially become a playoff game.
"We control our own destiny. It's a must-win situation for us," Martinelli said.