February 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 76  

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Mustangs clinch division title

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

Aaron Lynett/Gazette
OLD FASHION DONNYBROOK. Western’s Jamie Chamberlain engages in some old time hockey with a Gryphon at the end of the second period of Thursday’s game.

Another season of the Western Mustangs’ men’s hockey dominance over the Ontario University Athletics Far West division is almost over.

With a pair of wins on the weekend, combined with a loss by Lakehead University, the Mustangs clinched first place in the division for the fifth straight year.

Western went into play this weekend leading Lakehead by one point with three games each remaining. Lakehead’s unsuccessful weekend trip to southern Ontario gave the Mustangs the division title. Lakehead beat Brock University on Friday, tied them on Saturday and went on to lose to Laurier University on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Western was showcasing their potent offense, which has made them the team to beat in Ontario. Their balance and depth was proven with a 12-2 win over Guelph on Thursday at Thompson Arena.

Ten different players scored for the Mustangs, including two from Chris Rowan and Steve Benedetti. Benedetti was playing in just his 13th game of the season. “It’s nice to get a chance [to play],” he said. “I just try to make a good effort and get ready for the playoffs.”

Western looked ready for the playoffs as they started the game swarming the Guelph net and opened scoring just 1:21 into the first period on Benedetti’s first. Jeff Martin and Ryan Held added goals before the end of the period.

The Mustangs’ special teams went to work in the second period. Mike Stathopoulos and Shawn Thompson each scored power play goals in the opening two minutes of the second period. After the teams traded goals, Tom Brown scored another power play goal to make it 7-1.

Even being shorthanded couldn’t slow down the Mustangs attack as Ryan Hare scored a shorthanded goal, followed by Benedetti’s second of the game. In the third period, Rowan scored a pair of goals and Justin Davis added his 13th of the season. Western outshot Guelph 62-23.

“[Western] are a very highly skilled team, and if you don’t play 100 per cent every shift — that’s what happens,” said Guelph head coach Jeff Reid after the embarrassing loss.

“We got going early,” said Western head coach Clarke Singer. “We had a good start and played well. We played a full 60 minutes and got them down and made it tough to get back.”

Aaron Lynett/Gazette
FARMER’S AREN’T SO GOOD AT HOCKEY. Mustangs’ defenseman Shawn Thompson charges towards the net in Western’s 12-2 victory over Guelph on Thursday night.

The game turned into a hostile affair in the second period. A number of small scraps broke out as Guelph tried to coax the Mustangs into dropping the gloves.

“I think Guelph realizes there is no tomorrow and they were taking their frustration out on us,” Singer said about what lead to the roughness.

“I think there is some bad blood,” Reid said. “We’ve played them six times this year going back to the preseason and there is just some familiarity.”

Fighting in the OUA results in an automatic suspension, which forced Western to control themselves and not drop the gloves.

On Saturday, Western defeated Laurier 4-3 in overtime. Jamie Chamberlain scored the overtime winning goal in the last minute.

Western has one game remaining this Friday in Windsor against the last place Lancers. They will then get a bye through the first round of the playoffs and wait for the winner of the Lakehead/Waterloo series.



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