March 9, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 82  

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SPORTS

Four-OT thriller ends in heartbreak for Mustangs

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

Aaron Lynett/Gazette
WOW, 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 series.

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.

Aaron Lynett/Gazette
EAT 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 by scoring.

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.

 

First Period
1. Lakehead: Richards (Shaffer) 6:14
2. Lakehead:
Richards 2 (Shaffer, Jacobsen) 8:06
3. Western:
Chamberlain (Sokolsky, Martin) 17:01 (PP)
Second Period
4. Western: Haskett
(Zafiris, Bannan) 2:46
5. Western: Yeo (Hare) 3:03
6. Lakehead: Scherban (Richards) 19:35
7. Lakehead:
Shaffer (Richards, Scherban) 19:56
Third Period
8. Western:
Stathopoulos (Sokolsky) 3:18
First Overtime
No Scoring
Second Overtime
No Scoring
Third Overtime
No Scoring
Fourth Overtime
9. Lakehead: Lodge
(unassisted) 12:40 (PP)
Shots on goal: Lakehead - 86 Western - 53

 

 

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