Mustangs slip in loss to Ryerson

Team fails to hold 2-0 lead

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's hockey

Jonas Hrebeniuk

HE CLEARLY PLAYED WITH A "SKIP-IT" AS A CHILD. While the Mustangs men's hockey team effectively hurdled over bouncing pucks in last Thursday's game against Ryerson, it was unable to hurdle over the weak visiting opponent, dropping the game 5-2.

After a 5-2 loss against the Ryerson Rams on Thursday night, Mustangs fans left Thompson Arena highly disappointed.

Although Western has not officially faced the Rams during the regular season, the two men’s hockey teams faced off at the York Invitational this September, where Western came out on top with a 7-3 victory. On Thursday night, the Purple and Silver were expected to emerge victorious again.

Before the game Western was leading the Ontario University Athletics West division with 27 points this season, and Ryerson was dwelling at the bottom of the East division with a mere 13 points.

Ryerson head coach Graham Wise admitted his team felt nervous facing such a strong team.

“You have to convince your guys that they put their equipment on the same way as we do, and we just have to bring it.”

The Rams provided the Mustangs with a dose of humility " reminding everyone that in the competitive world of university hockey, you always have to play your best.

Western started off slowly in the first few minutes of the game, but picked up speed after the Rams earned themselves two penalties, giving Western a two-man advantage. Assistant captain Sal Peralta failed to capitalize on the power play.

Soon after, Luc Martin scored the first goal of the night, assisted by linemates Adam Nemeth and Jason Ertl.

Less than five minutes later, another power play for Western provided forward Kyle Piwowarczyk with the opportunity to score the team’s second goal.

“It was good support by my linemates [Jesse] Boucher and [Jeff] Martens,” Piwowarczyk said. “I felt happy. I haven’t scored in a long time so it was a weight off my shoulders.”

The tally was Piwowarczyk’s third goal of the season, but was also Western’s last goal of the night.

Coming into the second stanza, Peralta showed off his puck handling skills as he snuck past Rams defenders. His puck movement was stymied, however, as the Rams started to get in gear. After their shaky start in the first period, the Rams surged and dumped a shot past Mustangs goalie Brad Topping.

“We felt we had to get on them. Our strategy was to just put the puck on net,” Wise said. Ryerson, now up to full speed, was successful in scoring a second goal, which tied the score at 2-2.

“I give a lot of credit to our players. We were down 2-0 and they came back. They just kept chipping away,” Wise added.

The rest of the second period left fans on the edge of their seats as the battle continued, but hopes were in vain and the score remained tied.

Ryerson started off the third period putting another shot past Topping only one minute in. The only thing Western earned was a penalty, which enabled the Rams to score again.

Head coach Clarke Singer pulled Topping from the net, sending in backup goalie Keyvan Hunt.

Now down by two, the Mustangs came on strong, giving the Rams defence a challenge, but to no avail.

“It was tough, we were digging deep and we needed all four lines going,” Piwowarczyk said.

With only 49 seconds left, Singer pulled Hunt off the ice and added a sixth player to the front line.

The plan backfired and the empty net was an easy target for Ryerson forward Sergei Frenkel, who sent the puck sailing into the net for the fifth time that night.

With only seven seconds left on the clock, there was nothing left for Western but the bitter taste of defeat.

“All I was thinking was offence, offence, offence,” Piwowarczyk said. “But we ran out of gas.”

Following the defeat, Western got back on track Saturday, defeating the visiting University of Toronto Varsity Blues 3-2.

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