November 19, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 45  

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Power play "powers" Western to victory

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Staff

Matt Prince/Gazette
THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK. Mustangs’ goalie Mike D’Alessandro takes a breathe before Saturday night’s game against Laurier. The Mustangs were victorious by a 6-2 margin.

The last time the Western Mustangs men's hockey team met the Laurier Golden Hawks in Ontario University Athletics action, the scorekeeper had his hands full recording goals as Western managed to tally 15.

Last Saturday night at Thompson Arena was just as strenuous, only this time it was the result of a parade to the penalty box that began minutes in and grew more frequent as the game progressed.

Combining for 27 penalties over the course of the evening, the Mustangs and Golden Hawks played very few even-strength shifts. The result was a 6-2 Mustang victory as they handed an undisciplined Laurier squad their first loss of the season. Of the eight goals scored, only two came at even strength.

"Our discipline cost us and [Western was] able to capitalize," said Laurier head coach Mark French. "More times than not, special teams will win the game and Western won the special teams battle and in effect took the game." Mike Stathopoulos opened the scoring for Western on the power play at 3:33 of the first period. He managed to find the loose puck in the crease after a scramble in front of Laurier's net.

At 7:02, the Mustangs capitalized on another power play opportunity when Tim Zafiris blasted one past Laurier's goaltender from the top of the circle. Stellar play from Western goaltender Mike D'Alessandro helped to kill a double minor mid-way through the period and kept his team ahead by a two-goal margin.

The second period featured more of the same as Jamie Sokolsky scored at 10:52 and Stathopoulos added his second power play marker of the game to give Western a commanding 4-0 lead after forty minutes.

In the third period, Laurier tried to muster a comeback. Branden Merli cut the Mustang lead to three at five minutes in when he capitalized on a Western penalty and one-timed a shot past D'Alessandro from the top of the slot. The Golden Hawks followed that goal with some strong offense and seemed to carry the play while forcing Western to take four penalties in the first eight minutes of the period.

Laurier came close to cutting the Mustang lead in half before another undisciplined penalty negated their power play and killed their momentum. Jeff Martin scored for the Mustangs on the ensuing power play at 11:29 and put the game out of reach. A second marker for Merli and a short-handed tally from Mustang defenseman Abe Herbst rounded out the scoring.

"We came out with a solid effort right from the first drop of the puck and played a solid sixty minutes," said first-year Western forward Stathopoulous, following the win.

With two goals and an assist, Stathopoulos now finds himself atop the scoring race with line mate Justin Davis. "It's great," Stathopoulous said. "But the most important thing right now is that we're playing well as a team and winning hockey games." After suffering their first two regular season losses since 2000 earlier this month, the Mustangs have bounced back to outscore their opposition by a margin of 21-7 in three straight victories.

"We've put a couple of real good games together back-to-back," said Mustang's head coach Clarke Singer. "We're sticking to the plan, we're making some progress and we want to make sure we're doing the right things so that in the end we're in a position to win an OUA championship and hopefully a national title."




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