Four-OT thriller ends
in heartbreak for Mustangs
By Ian Denomme
THIS SURE BEATS TABLE HOCKEY. Mustangs’ forward
Mike Rice burns by the Thunderwolves defense. Western was
defeated by Lakehead after a long 5 1/2 hour battle.
The heated rivalry between the Western Mustangs and Lakehead Thunderwolves
men’s hockey teams was taken to yet another level this weekend
in the Ontario University Athletics Far West Division championship
On Saturday night (and Sunday morning) at Western’s Thompson
Arena, Western and Lakehead needed 122:40 minutes to determine
the third and deciding game of their series. The Thunderwolves
won the game and the series with a thrilling 5-4 four-overtime
victory that earned them their second straight Far West Division
championship over the higher-ranked Mustangs.
“Unbelievable,” said Lakehead head coach Pete Belliveau
about his feelings after the game. “It’s a shame that
a team had to lose. I predicted there would be overtime in this
series. The fans are the real winners — I think this was
one of the best games ever played at this rink.”
Belliveau may have been right. The game featured countless chances
to score at each end of the ice, and despite the fatigue, neither
team seemed to slow down even as the game passed 12:30 a.m..
Just like the first two games of the series, Western fell behind
early. Jeff Richards scored twice before the 10-minute mark to
give Lakehead a 2-0 lead. Jamie Chamberlain scored a power play
goal before the end of the period to get Western back in the game.
The Mustangs came out of the intermission fired up and quickly
tied the game, taking the lead. Chris Haskett and Brad Yeo scored
17 seconds apart to give Western a 3-2 lead.
Despite being out-shot, they seemed to have things well in hand
until the last minute of the period. Joel Scherban scored at 19:35
to tie the game, then Chris Shaffer scored at 19:56 to regain the
lead for the T-Wolves.
It didn’t take long for Western to tie it up again as Mike
Stathopoulos scored just over three minutes into the third period.
The game remained tied for over 78 minutes.
Each team had numerous chances to end the game in overtime but
could not beat either goaltender. Lakehead had the best chance
in the second overtime as a scramble ensued in front of Western
goalie Mike D’Alessandro. As D’Alessandro lay prone
on his stomach, the loose puck was eventually shot towards the
net, but he reached and dove across to make what may have been
the save of the year.
Fatigue began to play a factor as the game went on. The Lakehead
trainer was distributing orange slices and bananas to the players
on the bench between shifts in the hopes of revitalizing the team,
a strategy that paid off in the fourth OT period.
YOUR HEART OUT, MARTY MCSORLEY. Western Mustang Ryan Hare
chews a little lumber courtesy of Lakeheads’ Chris
Shaffer in Saturday night’s tilt at Thompson Arena.
After Lakehead was given a penalty for too many men on the ice,
Western’s power play was unable to capitalize. Lakehead was
then given a power play of their own and prolonged their season
Erik Lodge stopped the puck at the blue line and fired a shot
(the 87th of the game) along the ice, which seemed to have eyes
as it beat D’Alessandro for the win.
“I’m disappointed for the guys,” said Western
head coach Clarke Singer. “They showed great character coming
back from being down twice. They gave all they had. It’s
a tough loss.”
Western will still move on to the Queen’s Cup OUA championships
as the host team. However, the Mustangs missed a chance to eliminate
one of their top rivals.
“There was more pressure on us,” Belliveau said. “Our
season was tangling, we knew we couldn’t give up a goal.
Now we just need to rest.”
Before the excitement of Saturday’s game, Western faced
a do-or-die situation Friday. Western trailed the best of three
series 1-0 after falling to Lakehead 3-1 in Thunder Bay on Wednesday,
but won a penalty-filled 4-2 decision with goals scored by Chris
Rowan, Jamie Chamberlain, Stathopoulos and Davis.
“We wanted it more tonight,” D’Alessandro said
after Friday night’s win. “They’re a good team,
and if we could get rid of them now it would be better for us.”
Since Lakehead is still alive, the possibility still exists that
the two teams could meet in the Queen’s Cup final. Neither
team, however, is looking that far ahead.
“We want to try to make it to Sunday,” Yeo said. “But
we’re not looking past any team. We’re thinking about
it in the back of our minds.”
Western now plays the Toronto Varsity Blues Friday night at 7:35
p.m. at Thompson Arena.
1. Lakehead: Richards (Shaffer) 6:14
Richards 2 (Shaffer, Jacobsen) 8:06
Chamberlain (Sokolsky, Martin) 17:01 (PP)
4. Western: Haskett
(Zafiris, Bannan) 2:46
5. Western: Yeo (Hare) 3:03
6. Lakehead: Scherban (Richards) 19:35
Shaffer (Richards, Scherban) 19:56
Stathopoulos (Sokolsky) 3:18
9. Lakehead: Lodge
(unassisted) 12:40 (PP)
Shots on goal: Lakehead - 86 Western - 53