Volume 95, Issue 71

Thursday, February 7, 2002

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Three horsemen leading the Mustangs charge

A sports fan's dream

Three horsemen leading the Mustangs charge

By Benjamin Mills
Gazette Staff

The threesome of Matt Dzieduszycki, Joe Talbot and Ryan Held are ranked one, two and three respectively on the Ontario University Athletics scoring charts and all three just happen to play hockey for the Mustangs.

The similarities don't end there all three are first-year students, all three are former Ontario Hockey League players and all three, when not practicing or studying, drink at the Ceeps in their spare time.

Joe Talbot hails from Wahnapitae, a small town just outside of Sudbury, Ontario and has been playing hockey since he was a wee lad. He attributes his love for hockey to his parents' influence.

"They were the ones who woke me up in the early hours of the morning and got me to practice," Talbot said.

Talbot also notes the influence of one of his former coaches, the legendary Brian Kilrea of the OHL's Ottawa 67s. "He was the type of coach that if you played poorly one day, you rode the bench the next," Talbot said. "It was definitely a learning experience."

The National Hockey League is a goal for Talbot, but he says that it wouldn't be the end of the world if he doesn't make it. He said he came to Western to get an education to fall back on in the event his big league dream slips away.

Forward Matt Dzieduszycki was born in Calgary, Alberta, but raised in Mississagua, Ontario. He too has been playing hockey for many years now, including stints in the Metro Toronto Hockey League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association with the University of New Hampshire and the OHL with the Barrie Colts.

Dzieduszycki left New Hampshire with a bad taste in his mouth. "In the NCAA you learn how to play like a boy, whereas in the OHL, you learn how to play like a man," Dzieduszycki said.

His time in the OHL developed Dzieduszycki both as a player, as well as a man. His play improved and he regained his confidence and intensity. Unfortunately, the NHL scouts didn't notice and he went undrafted.

This year however, the scouts are noticing and for good reason. He is an explosive player with speed, soft hands and the stamina of a racehorse.

On any given game night at Thompson Arena, scouts can be seen feverishly scribbling down notes, watching Dzieduszycki with an eagle eye, wondering if he could be the next Mustang to join the big boys in the NHL.

"Hopefully I'll get one more shot and the third time will be the charm," he said. "But if hockey doesn't work out, then that's why I'm here [at Western], to have something to fall back on."

Ryan Held is a hometown boy playing for his hometown team.

Held is the quiet guy who slowly racks up the points, but never asks to be in the limelight.

His story is different than that of his aforementioned teammates. He isn't a star player like Joe Talbot or a hot NHL prospect like Matt Dzieduszycki although he was a former linemate of the second-rated North American prospect in this year's up-coming NHL draft, the London Knight's Rick Nash. He bumped around the OHL from team to team including stints in Kitchener, Sault Ste. Marie and finally, in his place of birth, London, Ontario.

Playing the OHL gave Held experience he carried over to Western. "The OHL is a highly-skilled league, with highly skilled players," he said. Playing in a league with older, more experienced players like himself, has brought out the best in Held.

"There's a lot of better players here with more experience than you would find in the OHL. They pass better and make fewer stupid mistakes than a 19-year-old in the OHL," Held said of the CIS.

Although it's unclear where these three young stars will end up, one thing is for certain along the way, they'll put away a few pints and rack up a lot of points.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002