Men's hockey team seeks return to
By Ian Denomme
IT’S NOT WORTH WINNING IF YOU CAN’T WIN BIG.
Mustangs’ winger Matt Bannon handles the puck as
his teammates, rumoured to be from District 5, cheer
The Western Mustangs' men's hockey team is on a mission.
The team ended last year's regular season with an undefeated
record -the second year in a row they accomplished that feat-
before falling to Lakehead University in the opening round
of the playoffs.
With the memory of that loss still fresh in their minds, the
Mustangs have made it their mission to win the Queen's Cup
this year and get back to nationals.
It won't be easy as each division in Ontario University Athletics
continues to improve. The OUA West is especially competitive
with Lakehead, Waterloo and Laurier joining Western in one
of the toughest divisions in Canada.
Despite the stiff competition, both the players and coaches
are confident this year's team will improve upon last year's
"Last year was a big disappointment," said team
captain Justin Davis, a fifth-year forward. "It was the
first time in three years we weren't at nationals. I think
this is the best team we've had since I've been here, so anything
short of nationals would be a disappointment." On offense
the Mustangs lost all-star forwards in Darren Mortier and Joe
Talbot, but head coach Clarke Singer thinks the new players
he's brought in will fill the void.
"We've added a great group of forwards," Singer
said. "[We've added] Mike Stathopoulos, Ryan Hare, Mike
Rice and Chris Rowan, all from the Ontario Hockey League. Those
four players give us as much skill level as we had last year,
but it also give us more depth." The Mustangs have no
lack of fire power up front with Brad Yeo, Tim Zafiris, Justin
Davis, Chris Haskett, Jamie Chamberlain, Ryan Held and Jeff
Martin all returning from last year when they were point-a-game
Western's depth at forward will be a huge asset as the season
goes on. Singer said they have 14 great forwards who could
On defense, the Mustangs lost All-Canadian Ryan McKie, their
captain for the last two years. However, three new additions
will give the Mustangs a different mix of skill, experience
THE SNOW COMES DOWN IN JUNE. Tim Zafiris stops on a dime
during a Mustangs’ hockey game. In a
related note, Vanessa Williams is hot.
"We've added three quality guys on defense in Jamie Sokolsky,
Chris Eade and Mike Sellan. We expect a lot out of all our
guys and depending on how they develop we expect to have six
guys in March who can contribute," Singer said.
The new players join a solid group of returning players which
includes Tom Brown, Kelly Paddon, Shawn Thompson and Abe Herbst.
The Mustangs are as strong as ever in goal with one of the
top trio's in the country. All-Star Mike D'Alessandro returns
along with Mike Boyce and Chad Marshall. Singer said having
three quality goaltenders creates a lot of competition, but
D'Alessandro is the No. 1 guy.
Singer said the biggest challenge for the coaching staff will
be to create chemistry in the dressing room and get players
to accept their roles.
"We have 25 guys who could play the power play," Singer
said. "Unfortunately, we can only have ten guys play,
so we need to have players accept their roles." Western
will host the Queen's Cup tournament for the third year in
a row and Singer would like to go to the tournament representing
the OUA West rather than getting a bye as the hosts.
"Western has only one OUA championship since 1964," Singer
said. "We have to focus on competing for the Queen's Cup
and getting back to nationals," Singer said.
The Mustangs home opener is Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at
Thompson Athletic Complex against the Windsor Lancers. The
first 500 students at the game wearing purple will get into
the game free.