February 11, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 73  

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SPORTS

Playoff hopes slipping

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Staff

Leah Crane/Gazette
GETTING THE HOOK. Western’s Christine Traynor attempts to slow down a Windsor player on the way to the net in their 2-1 loss to the Lancers.

On a weekend when most of the hockey world seemed more interested in discussing a potential work stoppage than celebrating the game’s greatest players, the Western Mustangs women’s hockey team was trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

Starting the weekend just four points behind Windsor in the race for the final playoff spot, the Mustangs would ultimately fail in their effort to gain ground after dropping a 3-1 decision to Guelph on Saturday before losing 2-1 in a crucial match against Windsor on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon saw the Mustangs take to the ice with the knowledge that a loss would all but eliminate them from the playoff picture and they seemed to play with that mindset.

Western controlled the play throughout much of the first two periods, but only managed to capitalize on a game-tying effort from Lauren Atkinson midway through the second period when she took full advantage of a bad Windsor line change. Atkinson’s first tally of the season levelled the score to a goal apiece and gave the Mustangs revived playoff hope heading into the third period.

“In the first and second period we came out a little flat,” said Windsor head coach Pat Hennessy. “Going into the third we knew they were fighting for a playoff spot and we wanted to score early and take away some life.”

And they followed their game plan perfectly as Connie Donato broke the tie in the first minute of the final frame giving Windsor a lead that would prove insurmountable for the Mustangs.

A point shot in the dying minutes that trickled through the Windsor netminder’s legs but stopped on the goal line was as close as Western would come in suffering the tough 2-1 defeat.

“They all seem to be tough losses in the last while,” said Western head coach Paul Cook. “Every game seems to be a one goal game where one mistake or one turnover will cost you.

“I thought we played well both yesterday and today, and it was just a matter of us not getting the big goal when we needed it.”

Sunday’s loss to Windsor leaves the Mustangs in the precarious position of needing to earn wins in all of their three remaining games, while also requiring the Lancers to drop three straight contests. Anything less than this scenario will leave Western on the outside looking in come playoff time.

“We haven’t mathematically clinched [the final playoff position] yet, but realistically we have because Western and Windsor still have tough games ahead against Guelph and Laurier,” Hennessy said. “It’s not quite time to celebrate yet, but we’re close.”

The Mustangs have failed to string together three straight victories at any time during the past two seasons.

“Everybody still has to play the same number of games and a lot can happen in the next little while,” Cook said. “We’re going to go into everyday, whether it’s a practice or a game, with the same kind of attitude, and it’s crucial we do that.”

“We just have to keep plugging away at practice and everything,” added Western forward Atkinson. “We have to stay positive.”

 

 

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