Volume 94, Issue 91
Wednesday, March 14, 2001
Mustangs get overall edge on UQTR
We've all had that experience, when you come home from the bar thinking the phone number jammed in your pocket is the ticket to happiness until you dial the digits and realize after five minutes of conversation the person on the other end is lacking something.
It's called depth, kids. And just like people, any worthwhile hockey team must have it. That is why the Mustang hockey team would have bounced the Queen's Cup champion University of Quebec at Trois-Rivires if the format was a best of seven affair, not a one game winner-take-all.
It's true UQTR boasts some supremely talented hockey players. Jean-Philippe Pare and tournament MVP Alex Tremblay have more sheer sniping ability than anyone in purple and white, while goaltender Luc Belanger is extending the Québec legacy of producing top notch netminders to the university ranks. That is where the UQTR advantage ends.
Top end talent is fine and dandy if you've got the foot soldiers to do the dirty work. That is where Western's depth comes in. Not only do they have the luxury of depending on a guy like Jeff Martin who can just flat out burn the goalie with a shot from anywhere, but they have the Chris Georges and Chris Hares on the third and fourth line to take care of business while the goal scorers sit.
The story of the statistical game definitely indicates Western has a better hockey product top to bottom. UQTR plotted two quick power play goals, displaying a deft touch to be sure, but we already knew they had that.
The fourth and winning goal came while the teams were at full strength. It also happened to come in a most unlikely fashion, when Western was victimized by an unlucky puck bounce that left a gaping net for Alex Piche to take advantage of.
When you get right down to it, UQTR scored one full strength legitimate goal. Just for the record two of Western's three goals were on the man advantage, but they also managed to outshoot UQTR 44-28. That is because Western was able to get the puck deep, penetrate the defence on almost every shift and cycle the puck down low.
Want another example of Western's depth? Both teams lost a key defenceman in the championship game. In the first period the Mustangs lost Ryan McKie for checking from behind. UQTR lost their big blueliner Jean-Nicolas Bordeleau in the second for the same infraction.
Western didn't miss a beat as guys like Kelly Paddon and Matt Munro stepped up their play. UQTR seemed overwhelmed without their stud on defence, and scrambled at times to cope.
So the next time you're out on the town and you think the external package is going to bring you true satisfaction, remember the lesson of the Ontario University Athletics hockey finals a nice top end is great, but walking the thin line between victory and defeat requires balance.
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