Slow start leads to first loss of season

Two third period goals by Peralta too late for 'Stangs

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western men's hockey

Jonas Hrebeniuk

GOOD THING I DID LUNGES IN MY YOGA CLASS. Western’s men’s hockey squad got into a hole in the first two periods against the Laurier Golden Hawks at Thompson Arena this past weekend. They couldn’t climb all the way back, dropping the match 4-2.

Last Thursday, the Western’s men’s hockey team was looking to win its first regular season game at Thompson Arena since 2005, but the Laurier Golden Hawks didn’t get the memo.

The Golden Hawks spoiled the Mustangs’ return to Thompson, as Laurier jumped all over a flat Western squad and held off a late charge to win the contest 4-2.

Laurier and Western played the second game of a home-and-home series. The Golden Hawks were looking to atone for a 5-0 loss to the Mustangs back on Oct. 14.

It wasn’t so much revenge that Laurier had on its mind, but the Golden Hawks knew they were a better team than what the scoreboard read the first time the squads faced off.

“We like to play a high-tempo game and that certainly was our objective for tonight, as it is every night,” Laurier head coach Kelly Nobes said. “I’m pleased with the way we played and the outcome, but our focus was just getting our legs back and getting pucks in deep.”

The Mustangs lacked early focus in the first two periods. Their slow start led to their demise, as they were unable able to muster much of an attack in the first period and called on veteran goaltender Brad Topping after several defensive breakdowns.

Late in the first period Western looked to strike first " the Mustangs had a 3-1 shorthanded break " but Sal Peralta couldn’t capitalize and it cost the Mustangs.

Just seconds later, Laurier’s Nathan Peacock took a feed in front of the net from Matt Maccarone and beat Topping to put the Golden Hawks on top 1-0 after one period.

Midway through the second, Laurier was at it again. Matthew Grennier found Mark Voakes behind the Mustangs defence, and Voakes stayed on his feet just long enough to avoid a Topping poke check and slide the puck into the open net, putting Laurier ahead by two.

An unlucky bounce put the Mustangs down three and in a tough spot heading into the third period.

“I didn’t think we responded early as well as we would have liked,” Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer said. “They took it to us. Obviously you get down 3-0 to a team like that and you’re not going to win many games.”

Western came out in the third period thinking “comeback”; their top line put the Mustangs back into the game. Four minutes into the frame Peralta grabbed the puck in the slot and fired it past Laurier goalie Jeff MacDougald.

Less than two minutes later, Peralta scored a second goal, this time redirecting a Kevin Richardson pass to bring the Mustangs within one.

MacDougald stood his ground for the rest of the period, making 10 saves in the third period to give Laurier the victory.

“We chipped away at it, but we put ourselves in such a big hole after the first two periods that we ran out of time,” Peralta said.

“We have a lot to learn from this. There are a lot of good teams in this league and you can’t take [anything] for granted. We can’t give away those games to a team like that and especially on home ice for the first time this year.”

The Mustangs return home to Thompson Arena on Thursday to host the Waterloo Warriors. Singer knows it will not get any easier.

“We have a great group and we’ve just got to keep working hard,” he said. “Every night is going to be like this, it’s going to a tough game every night.”

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