January 27, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 64  

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Mustangs hang on, excite kids

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Staff

Dallas Curow/Gazette
STRESS RELIEVER. Western forward Matt Bannan puts all his bottled up rage into a slap shot in Western’s 5-4 victory over Windsor on Friday.

Hockey fans at Thompson Arena last Friday night were treated to a fast-paced, break away-filled game complete with solid checking, inventive play-making and dazzling goaltending. And that was during the first intermission.

The Fanshawe Optimist novices took to the ice between the first and second periods of Friday’s Western Mustangs men’s hockey game and played to an exciting 0-0 draw before being given the chance to meet the Western players.

“I don’t know what to say,” said seven-year-old Bryson, with an ear-to-ear grin when asked what it was like to meet the Mustangs.

“They’re really good,” chimed in two equally excited teammates.

These future NHLers know what they’re talking about. Heading into Friday night’s game against the Windsor Lancers, Western was ranked second in the country, had an impressive 10 straight wins and had four players in the top 10 of Ontario University Athletics scoring. All of this skill was displayed in the contest, which the Mustangs were able to win by a score of 5-4.

Before the game was five minutes old, goals from Ryan Hare and Mike Stathopoulos put Western ahead 2-0. The two teams traded power play markers later in the period as Jamie Chamberlain scored for Western and Kyle Trudell netted one for the Lancers.

Combining for eight minor penalties in the second period, neither team was able to establish much rhythm. Some solid goaltending on both sides held the clubs to only one power play goal apiece in the period, with Jamie Sokolsky scoring for Western before Alex White scored for Windsor.

“I thought we played a pretty good first period,” said Western head coach
Clarke Singer. “But in the second, there wasn’t a lot of five-on-five play and we didn’t get a chance to play on our lines at all, and I think that disrupted our flow a little bit heading into the third.”

Tim Zafiris increased Western’s lead to 5-2 on the power play at 8:54 of the final period, but the Lancers refused to give up. Two goals in a 13-second span brought the scrappy group from Windsor back to within one goal of the Mustangs.

Some key saves down the stretch from Western goaltender Mike D’Alessandro allowed the Mustangs to barely hang on and secure the 5-4 victory.

“We have to play more consistent,” Singer said. “This is a bit of a message for our guys that we need to come out with a real good effort and play our high tempo game.”

“Sometimes when we have a good first period, we seem to let down in the second and third and let teams back in,” added Mustangs’ captain Justin Davis.

Considering the difference between the two teams at the end of the night was only one goal, things could have been much different had Windsor not taken penalties at inopportune times.
Not only did the Lancers allow three power play goals on the night, but they also took penalties which negated their own power plays on two separate occasions.

“Western is a fast team and if you give them any kind of room or advantage they can take it to the net,” said Windsor coach Brent Webster. “They’re a very skilled team and we took a lot of untimely penalties that cost us.”

While Western deserves credit for earning two points, an improved effort will be necessary if the Mustangs want to hold their lead in the Far West Division, as they make the long trip to face second place Lakehead this coming weekend.

“Tonight, with eight minutes to go we just relaxed and we let them back in and it came to them pulling their goalie and almost tying it,” Davis said. “Championship teams keep other teams down and don’t let them score anymore.”



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