Volume 94, Issue 89
Friday, March 9, 2001
High hockey hopes - Western heads to the OUAs
By Ryan Dixon
The Western Mustangs hockey team hit the road for the Ontario Athletics University championships with the hopes of being crowned the kings at Queen's.
The first hurdle for the Mustangs in Kingston comes in the form of the York Yeomen, who just happen to be one of only three teams who have beaten Western in regular season play this year.
If Western is able to squeeze past York they will gain a berth in the OUA final, and subsequently earn a spot at the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union championships in Kitchener.
Western head coach Clarke Singer said the Mustang agenda for the tournament is twofold. "I think we head in with two goals and the first is to gain a birth in the OUA finals and with that comes a place at CIAUs. We're certainly not looking ahead past York. York is all we have talked about all week."
Western assistant captain, Chris George, said the team has gained some momentum with their two game sweep of Waterloo, but they can not lose sight of the fact that all that will go out the window with a loss on Saturday.
"We have to remember that our next game is do or die. We're a confident team, we just need to relax," George said.
York bench boss, Graham Wise, said that although his team was able to defeat Western earlier in the year, he is not putting a large amount of stock in that win.
"We're playing a very good hockey team. When we beat them in January, I think we caught them in a bit of a down period. We're going to have to be at the top of our game," he said.
Singer pointed out that as clichéd as it might be, anything can happen at this time of year. "At this point of the year it is important to remember that anybody can beat anybody."
Singer added that while his squad is focusing on the Yeomen, they are concerned with the performance of another team first.
"We're trying to work on the things that we do well first. We've focused on some special teams play. After that we look at what York does well, they have a strong transition game," Singer said.
George said because of that transition game, the Mustangs will be well advised to minimize the amount of times they cough up the puck. "We have to watch our turnovers at the blueline, but we're a team that can skate too. I think we match up well."
Having won their only two play-off games against Waterloo, Western does head in on a roll. However, Singer said he hopes his team has not reached their optimal performance level yet.
"We've been happy with the way we played against Waterloo, we had a little dip in our play earlier in February. I think we've played close to our best, but I don't think we've played our best yet, hopefully we peak this weekend," he said.
Since the Christmas break, York has lost only twice one less setback than the Mustangs have suffered. Wise was also hesitant to put much stock in the win/loss column differential.
"We've had a good second half and anytime any team has some wins it equals confidence. But you have to look at your opponent. A one game difference in the loss column is not a big difference and it really doesn't mean much," he said.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000