Hockey team clinches first place
Western's winning card records their 27th title
The most synchronized team
Exhibiting some indoor talent
Hockey team clinches first place
By Wes Brown
The Western men's hockey team got an extensive workout on their specialty teams last weekend, killing penalties Friday at Queen's University and capitalizing on power plays Saturday against the Royal Military College.
To start the weekend, the squad fought off 10 Golden Gael power plays in the first two periods of play and ended up beating Queen's by a final score of 4-1. The momentum carried over to Saturday and produced a 3-1 victory against RMC. With the two wins, Western clinched first place overall in the Ontario University Athletics Far West division.
Team captain Jeff Petrie said his team played well, considering the amount of time they spent in the penalty box. He added it was good practice for the short–handed unit.
"We didn't get a whole lot of breaks, Queen's had about nine power plays to our one or two," Petrie said of Friday night's action. "It's a smaller rink, making it tougher to get going, but the guys were able to re–focus."
Assistant captain Damon Hardy said the onslaught of power plays made it hard to motivate the team, but once they got going, the strength of their play improved.
"We were playing a lot of the specialty teams, so everyone wasn't seeing the ice, but it was good practice we had good puck control and movement," he said.
"We were playing hard and skating fast. Teams have a hard time keeping up with us when we're on our game, so they have to clutch and grab to slow us down."
Petrie commended goaltender Denver England for keeping the Mustangs in the game until the third period, when they poured it on. "Denver played an excellent game and kept us in it until we got our guns going," he said.
"It was 2-1 when [forward] Todd Linton made a nice play, breaking down the right side and basically feeding the puck over to me for a wide open net. Then [defenceman] Matty Munro made a great shot from the point, off the post, and in to end it."
Queen's assistant coach Ken Ronson said the game was well fought and stayed pretty even until Western's quick goals in the last six minutes.
"Our season has gone really well and we've added a lot to the program here at Queen's, but Western is just a really good team and they've shown that all year," he said.
"We're hoping to do well in the playoffs. Our division is really close. Last week we were first and [the University of Toronto] and [the University of Guelph] were behind us. Now all of that has flip–flopped."
Ronson added the playoffs are a whole different season and the hottest team going in usually performs the best.
Petrie agreed with Ronson's sentiments and added with only four games remaining in the regular season, two against the University of Waterloo and two against Wilfrid Laurier University, the outcomes are becoming even more significant.
"Both Waterloo and Laurier are in our division, making these last games that much more important," Petrie said. "The one thing we don't want to do is sit back and rest on what we've accomplished so far. The games are just going to keep getting more important and more intense."
RMC head coach Andy Scott said in regards to talent, Western was definitely a pinnacle team which deserved its ranking and prestige. "I give my guys full marks for playing really hard," Scott said of his team's efforts.
"[Western's] a top 10 team and this is the only time we get to see them, so we raise the bar a bit when they come into town."