Volume 95, Issue 80

Wednesday, March 6, 2002
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From "uh-oh" to the OUAs

Badgers lose their bite

It's either Halifax or bust

Celebrating gold with a Foster's

Sports Briefs

Hauling in the hardware

From "uh-oh" to the OUAs

Western eludes the Wolves' grasp

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

Clichés make the sporting world go 'round, so forgive the Western men's hockey team if they're uttering a few "when it rains, it pours" around campus.

The team that went through the regular season likely thinking the word adversity meant some odd, lower level of university, suddenly found themselves surrounded by the stuff during the course of their thrilling best of three series win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves

The Mustangs finished the series victories, downing Lakehead with a convincing 5-1 win at Thompson Arena on Saturday night. Western started the series doing something they had not done for the entire Ontario University Athletics regular season – losing 4-3 to the feisty wolves from Thunder Bay.

But surely they would bounce back after their loss on the road with a convincing win at home in the second game and show these Wolves who really runs the OUA pack, right?

Well, not exactly.

Western came one shot from having to face the embarrassment of hosting the Queen's Cup tournament – the battle for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport hockey crown – as spectators.

They required two overtime periods to shake the tenacious Thunderwolves who were playing out of their skin. Western finally burried the game-winner between the pipes to win 4-3.

After that game, adversity took on a form much more grave than could be conjured up by any mere sporting event.

Lorne Thompson, a respected and revered trainer with the team, passed away suddenly after Friday night's game due to a stroke.

Saturday night's game started with a moment of silence to honour Thompson. Lined up side-by-side on the blue line, the Western player's heads hung just above the 'L' each player had stitched onto their jersey to pay tribute to their fallen friend.

Western head coach Clarke Singer said his team, pushed to the brink and beyond, was a better team for the test they endured. "I think we have to be. It was an incredible series, probably the toughest three games we've had all year," he said.

"With the situation we've had with [Thompson] passing away, it's a pretty tough emotional day," Singer added.

Western winger Ryan Held came up big with a pair of goals in the deciding game. He said the Mustangs relieved a huge burden by eliminating Lakehead.

"We didn't want to host the Queen's Cup and not be there," Held said.

Lakehead, for their part, came as close to a fairy tale upset as possible. In the end, the glass skate didn't quite fit.

"When you're a coach, all you can ask is that [your players] give everything they have and they gave [it]," Thunderwolves coach Pete Beliveau said. "We're not happy with the result, but they gave us everything they had."

There was certainly no secret to Lakehead's success. They subscribed to an age-old sporting adage that states if you outwork your opponent consistently – you will be rewarded.

"They worked extremely hard," Singer said of Lakehead. "They have a lot of components to their game that are very [good]."

Now equipped with experience, Western will host York Friday night at 8 p.m. in the first Queen's Cup match.

Claire Chapple/Gazette
"DON'T LET THE SPORTING NEWS CATCH WIND OF THIS SERIES." The Mustangs persevered and eventually handled the pesky Lakehead Thunderwolves in double-overtime during the final game of the series, winning 4-3.

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