November 4, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 36  

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Mustangs/Thunderwolves rivalry: to be continued...

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

Matt Prince/Gazette
TALK ABOUT A LAST SECOND VICTORY. The Mustangs won a nail-biter against the Lakehead Thunderwolves, besting them at 19:59 in the third period on Saturday at Thompson Arena.

While most people were at home Saturday night watching the Toronto Maple Leafs get spanked by the Philadelphia Flyers, there was a playoff-like game taking place at Thompson Arena.

The Western Mustangs men's hockey team was facing its divisional rival, the Lakehead Thunderwolves, in the second game of a weekend double-header.

After last year's playoff loss to Lakehead there was much hype and anticipation leading up to this weekend's games. The teams didn't disappoint.

Western -ranked fourth in the country- and fifth-ranked Lakehead played two very close games which went down to the last second -literally.

Western won a hard-fought battle 4-3 on a goal by Tim Zafiris at 19:59 of the third period, which set off a playoff-like celebration by the team and the crowd.

The win was even more special after the way Friday night's game had ended. Friday's game was another nail-bitter, but Lakehead emerged victorious with a 3-2 win on a goal by Bryan Duce with seven seconds remaining in the game.

"Tonight's win is even more special after last night," said Western head coach Clarke Singer of Saturday's win. "It was ironic that they scored with seven seconds left and we scored with one second. It was a good hockey game and a very important win for us." After the disappointing loss on Friday, Western started Saturday by flying out of the gates. Ryan Held scored just over one minute into the game to give the Mustangs an early lead. Jeff Richards replied for Lakehead to tie the game. However, Western would regain the lead before the end of the period as Chris Bertilet one-timed a perfect pass from Jamie Chamberlain.

The second period was all Lakehead. Mike Jacobsen tied the game on a power-play goal five minutes into the period and the Thunderwolves continued to carry the play throughout the period. Lakehead out-shot Western 20-8 in the second period, but Mustang goaltender Mike D'Alessandro shut the door to keep the game tied.

The third period was a very close and physical one. The intensity started to pick up as the game got chippy and saw some big hits from both sides. Mustang defenseman Mike Sellan was on the giving end of a huge hit which sent Wyatt Tunnicliffe flying through the air and hard into the boards.

The physical play came as no surprise to anyone in the rink.

"It's a result of two things," Singer said. "One is the intensity of this rivalry and the second is that the game was so important. We need to get wins whenever we can." Mike Rice restored Western's lead early in the third period but once again Lakehead fought back to tie it five minutes later. The game looked to be heading into overtime as both teams played conservatively over the last five minutes of the game.

But with time winding down Zafiris came off the bench and joined the rush. He took a pass from Justin Davis just over the blue line, skated in and lifted a shot into the top corner that sent the entire building into a frenzy and gave Western a hard-fought win.

"It was a helluva game," said Lakehead head coach Pete Belliveau. "We were one second from getting three out of four points, but we're still satisfied. The fans are the real winners -they got to see two great teams play two great games. I wish we could play [Western] every week.




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