Topping leads 'Stangs win

Western rides goaltending to crucial victory

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Falling on the ice with his legs around the other player

Jonas Hrebeniuk

RIDING THE BULL LONGER THAN A DRUNKEN NIGHT AT COWBOYS. After suffering two tough losses versus Lakehead, the Mustangs dominated Brock by a score of 6-0 last Saturday.

The Brock Badgers left campus with their tails between their legs on Saturday after failing to score against the Mustangs men’s hockey team.

The Mustangs crushed the Badgers in a 6-0 victory at Thompson Arena, with goalie Brad Topping putting up a 24-save shutout.

“Topping was a big reason for [our loss] ... but I thought when [Western] had offensive opportunities, [it] did a good job of burying the puck,” Brock head coach Murray Nystrom said.

Kevin Richardson began Western’s scoring with an early power play goal. The Mustangs maintained momentum throughout the first period and kept the play in Brock’s end of the rink.

But the ’Stangs string of solid scoring opportunities were interrupted when Brock had a two-man power play. Western’s defence held its own against a swarm of Badgers around the net.

Despite their two-man advantage, the Badgers couldn’t score on Topping.

“Being our third game this week, we needed a goal or two early to give us a bit more juice, but we didn’t get that,” Nystrom said.

Richardson scored again for the Mustangs early in the second period. The rest of the period was dominated by power plays, with both Western and Brock heading repeatedly to the penalty box.

By the third, the Mustangs were back in full force. They ensured a Western victory with four additional goals in the period, including a 3-on-1 Peter Franchin tally with 6:30 left in the game.

With four of Western’s six goals scored while Badgers were in the box, the Mustangs used their power play opportunities well.

“I think the tendency on the power plays is to want to get the pretty goal, the back-door goal, or the open net goal, but I thought we did a nice job tonight of just shooting the puck and finding some spots,” Western head coach Clarke Singer said.

Singer said Topping made some huge saves.

“He did a great job and he’s got to keep playing well like that for us.”

Topping attributed the win to a team effort, with contributions from all four lines.

“Most of the other teams in our division have been winning their games this week, so we wanted to keep pace with them,” he added.

Mustangs defenceman Marcus Smith was impressed with Topping’s play.

“Topping definitely kept us in there,” Smith said.

“Our team was coming off a couple tough losses in Lakehead so we really wanted to emphasize having a good start.”

So far, the Mustangs’ season has been up and down.

On Sept. 30, Western pummeled the Ryerson Rams to secure the York Invitational Championship. Most recently, the Mustangs suffered two shootout losses on Nov. 2 and 3 against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

“You don’t win the season in your first 10 games,” Topping said

“We’re just trying to gel together as a team.

“The big thing is we’re building on our work ethic and our consistency, and hopefully that carries into the playoffs.”

With another game against the Badgers on Nov. 17, the Mustangs hope to repeat Saturday’s performance despite Brock’s hometown advantage.

“I’m sure they’re going to have a heck of a lot of motivation to play us on their rink after losing to us here,” Singer said.

Singer added the Mustangs have three games in four days this week, including a home game against Guelph on Nov. 15.

“We’ll probably shorten practice a little bit this week,” Singer said.

Smith expects Brock to be a little fresher at the next game.

“This was [Brock’s] third game in four nights. Next game, we’ll probably expect a more energized spot on their side,” Smith said.

Nystrom expects a good rematch between the two teams.

“We’re all battling for the same playoff spots,” he added.

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