November 26, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 49  

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Women's hockey team looks to 2004 for fresh start

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
SHE SHOOTS, SHE SCORES. The Mustangs’ women’s hockey team lost to Guelph 5-0 on Sunday, marking the end of play for 2003. The women’s season picks up again after the holiday break.

The mid-season holiday break couldn't come too soon for the Western Mustangs women's hockey team as they were shut out for the second time in as many games by the visiting Guelph Gryphons on Sunday.

The 5-0 loss seemed to underline all the problem areas in which the team has struggled over the first half of this season. At 5:48 Beth MacDonald opened the scoring for the Gryphons when she netted a power play goal from in tight on Mustangs goaltender Sarah Pickard. Katie Ennis added to Guelph's totals with 10 seconds left in the first period when she capitalized on a failed Western clearing attempt.

The second period was uneventful as neither team managed to bulge the twine.

Trailing by two goals after 40 minutes, the Mustangs were a little comfortable with the knowledge that they had not been badly outplayed up to that point. Throughout the game, there were times when Western managed to outwork the Gryphons and get the cycle going in deep. However, they failed on almost every occasion to turn their hard work into scoring chances.

"Western's work ethic is definitely there," said Guelph head coach Chuck Wight. "They had us back on our heels several times, but we managed to weather the storm with some strong defensive play." Western head coach Paul Cook made a goaltending change to start the third period, perhaps in an attempt to spark his squad. This strategy proved to be ineffective when Carrie Tokarczyk scored for the Gryphons on the power play at 3:47 of the final frame. Two more goals from Ennis would round out the scoring as she notched the hat trick and Guelph cruised to a 5-0 shutout victory.

"For the second game in a row we didn't have the total team effort that we would like to have," said a noticeably frustrated Cook following the loss. "We're not the most talented team and for us to be successful we need to have every single player playing at 100 per cent or we end up with a result like we got today." Averaging only one goal per game on the season, scoring has been a problem for Western. This has been painstakingly clear lately, as the Mustangs have been outscored by a margin of 18-1 in their last three contests and have not recorded a win in over a month.

"We're not getting to the net in game situations," Cook said. "If you look at where goals are scored in this league, it't for the most part from the crease area in front of the net. We have to start looking at multiple ways that we can generate more offense. One goal [per game] is not going to get the job done." Western's offensive troubles have been complicated by problems in their own end of the rink; they have surrendered an average of six goals per game in their last three outings.

"We seem to have a tough time playing down low in front of our net," Cook said. "We need to adjust and defend better against that type of play in the crease area." The next time the women take to the ice for a league game it will be a new year and nearly three months since their last victory. This lengthy break will give the players and coaching staff plenty of time to analyze their first nine games of the season and hopefully translate into an improved Mustang team come January.

"We're going to look and find the areas that we need to be better as a team," Cook said. "We've had some really good moments against some pretty good teams, but we've struggled with our confidence."




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