By Benjamin Mills
PUGILISM YOU WANT? Lakehead defensemen Aaron Piccinin tries to crimson
Western's Tim Zafiris' face
This wasn't for the National Championship."
That sentiment echoed quietly through the cold, moist air outside the
Lakehead University dressing room as the team's equipment manager went
about his usual post-game round-up of sticks, water bottles and towels.
His team just suffered its worse loss in team history albeit a
brief two-year history.
The number 3 nationally ranked Western men's hockey team quelled their
critics Friday night after handing the number 4 nationally ranked Lakehead
Thunderwolves a wicked 9-2 beating.
The Mustangs held the Thunderwolves at bay for most of the game. Held,
as in Ryan Held, who tallied four goals and an assist on the night, and
bay, as in Thunder Bay, where Lakehead had travelled from to get their
"[Western] definitely deserve full marks," said Thunderwolves
head coach Pete Belliveau, adding, "They out-played, out-scored,
out-skated, out-passed, out-everythinged us tonight."
Lakehead was supposed to give Western a run for their money. The only
two regular season losses suffered by the Mustangs this season came at
the hands of the Thunderwolves, but Lakehead had to forfeit the points
they gained after it was ruled they iced an ineligible player.
Instead of skating with the confidence that they could beat the Mustangs,
Lakehead came out flat and undisciplined on Friday. The Wolves racked
up 96 minutes in penalties, a very dangerous thing to do when you consider
the potency of Western's powerplay.
"They took liberties with some of our key players," Held said.
Lakehead's "liberties" included Kris Bragnelo, taking a run
at Western goaltender Mike D'Alessandro off a mishandled breakaway, and
Matt Kenny, hitting Mustangs forward Joey Talbot a player he outweighs
by 50 pounds from behind, after Talbot tucked away the ninth and
final goal of the game.
Both Lakehead players were ejected, with Kenny being the more difficult
of the two when he threw a temper-tantrum and chucked his baby
err water bottle on the ice like an infant telling his mother his
milk was too warm.
"We were surprised," said Western head coach Clarke Singer.
"Everyone expected a close 3-2 or 4-3 hockey game, but we'll take
Singer was quick to point out that Lakehead's easy defeat was not indicative
of their usual play.
"Tonight was important, but it's the playoffs that mean the most,"
But pucks and pugilism aside, this was only the first game of a tremendous
double-header. Game 1 set the stage; would game 2 be the curtain call?