March 16, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 86  

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SPORTS

Mustangs’ season ends early with loss at Queen’s Cup

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

Rachel Cartwright/Gazette
“HA - NOW I’M THE KING OF THE HILL.” Players from Western and the University of Toronto pile on during Friday night’s Queen’s Cup entry game. Western fell to Toronto 5-4 in the contest.

For the second straight year, the Western Mustangs’ men’s hockey team’s season ended much earlier than they wanted.

A heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the underdog Toronto Varsity Blues ended Western’s quest for the Queen’s Cup and their bid to return to nationals.
“We didn’t play that well, and Toronto did play well,” said Western coach Clarke Singer. “They deserved to win.”

Despite not playing their best game, Western managed to keep the game close and with less than a minute remaining in the third period, were tied at four and looked destined to go to overtime for the second straight week.

That was until a scramble ensued in front of Western goaltender Mike D’Alessandro, and the puck managed to trickle by everyone and into the net with only 31 seconds remaining. Western pulled the goalie for an extra attacker but didn’t get a shot during the remaining time.

“It sucks to lose like that,” said third-year assistant captain Tom Brown, who is one of nine graduating players. “It’s a tough way to end my career.”

Tyler Middlebrook scored a power play goal 10 minutes into the first period to silence the crowd of 1,800 at Thompson Arena.

Middlebrook scored again just two minutes into the second period to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. However, Western finally got on the scoreboard on the power play when Jamie Sokolsky’s shot from the point beat Ryan Grinnell. Western tied it before the end of the period on a goal by Justin Davis.

There were four goals scored in just over two minutes into the third as the teams battled back and forth.

Ian Malcolm scored shorthanded for Toronto on a breakaway, but Tim Zafiris tied it again with a goal on the same power play. Middlebrook completed his hat trick less than a minute later. Thirty-six seconds after that, Chris Eade scored to make it 4-4.

It remained tied until the 19:29 mark of the third when Tristan Senior scored the game-winning goal that ended Western’s season.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Toronto coach Darren Lowe. “We got the bounces tonight. We played so many one-goal games this year, and [tonight] fate turned our way.”

The moods in the two dressing rooms were obviously very different.

“Shock’s not the right word — we’re more disappointed,” Singer said. “This team didn’t reach its potential.”

“We expected to win,” Zafiris — also a graduating player — said. “But we didn’t do all the little things that we needed to.”

The nine graduating players on the team represent a large percentage of Western’s offense, as well as some of their top defensemen. Joining Brown and Zafiris on the list of players not returning next year are team captain and all-time leading scorer Davis, Jeff Martin, Chris Haskett, Abe Herbst, Sokolsky, Brad Yeo and goaltender Chad Marshall.

“They are all great hockey players and great people,” Singer said. I’m going to miss all those guys.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better year, [but] it’s just not the way I wanted to end it,” Brown said.

“[Western] put the fun back in hockey,” Zafiris added. “I have no regrets. It was the best time of my life. There are some wild boys on this team and I’m going to look back with nothing but fond memories.”

 

 

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