Power play "powers"
Western to victory
By Aron Yeomanson
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."