Mustangs hang on, excite
By Aron Yeomanson
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
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.”