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Preparing for ice wars
Preparing for ice wars
By Ryan Dixon
The Western Mustangs hockey club is going to get a lot more familiar with the City of Kingston this weekend.
On Friday night, the Queen's Golden Gaels will be in town for a match with the Mustangs. Saturday night Western will again be in action at Thompson Arena, this time playing host to the Royal Military College Paladins.
RMC head coach, Andy Scott, was very honest when he assessed what he expected to see from the home town Mustangs. "Far too much," he laughed. Scott went on to explain his analysis.
"Western is one of the premier teams in the league. We expect to see a big, skating club with lots of skill," he said.
Scott also said RMC will not be at full strength for this game, as they have been bitten by the injury bug. "Unfortunately we've sustained some injuries to key players. One of the strengths of Western is their depth, if they were in our position they could replace the injured players without much of a problem. For us, after you get past the first dozen guys, we are playing with guys for whom it's a real challenge to play at this level."
Western head coach, Clarke Singer, said no matter who is donning the RMC jersey, the Mustangs will not be taking anyone lightly. Singer said he expects a fight all the way from the Paladins, especially from their last line of defence.
"We know their goaltender is really strong. He played well last year and he has been phenomenal this season. They haven't had much luck in the win column, but they have been in some really close games," Singer said.
Scott also said he viewed goaltending as a vital factor in his team's chances for victory. "Our goaltender must play well and we will just have to try and stay with them. If we keep it close and just try to play a good road game then maybe we'll get a bounce."
The Mustangs remain undefeated this season, but their last game against Waterloo was a lot closer than their previous matches. Defenceman, Matt Munro, said the 4-3 squeaker Western pulled out might serve as a wake up call.
"It shows a lot of the guys it's not going to be a walk in the park. A lot of the teams are more evenly matched than it might seem," he said.
Singer pulled no punches when he evaluated the performance of the Mustangs last time they hit the ice. "The bottom line is we didn't play a good game and we were lucky to get the result we did."
Western had better be on their toes when they play the Golden Gaels. Singer said Queen's will be coming right after the Mustangs.
"Queen's forecheck hard on the penalty kill and really pressure the puck. That is something we will have to work on in our drills," he said.
Despite the fact the two teams only get together for one game each year, Singer said he thinks the traditional rivalry between Queen's and Western in other sports could blossom on the ice.
"I think it's developing. We only play each other once a year but because of their ex-Ontario Hockey League players and ours, I think there is a rivalry. Just the fact that it is Queen's and Western, there is a rivalry across all athletics and academia," Singer said.
Having a perfect record can place pressure on any team in any sport. Singer said there may be some added strain on his club, but he hopes to combat it by keeping his team focused on immediate tasks. "Given the situation I think there is a little pressure. All we can do is take it day by day, game by game and period by period."