Mustangs trample Toronto in 3-2 win

Win puts Western on par with division leader Lakehead

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs' men's hockey

Jonas Hrebeniuk

NOW THAT IS SOME GOOD STICKHANDLING. Defenceman Marcus Smith and the Mustangs left the Toronto Varsity Blues black and blue Saturday night, beating them by a score of 3-2.

Last Sunday at Thompson Arena, the Western Mustangs men’s hockey team notched a 3-2 victory versus the visiting Toronto Varsity Blues.

Western converted on 3-of-6 power play opportunities to earn its 13th win of the season.

After losing 5-2 in a lacklustre performance versus the Ryerson Rams on Thursday, the Mustangs regrouped.

“We wanted to get our game in shape,” Mustangs assistant coach Cam O’Donnell said. “We didn’t play very well against Ryerson, and we talked a lot about getting back to our team game.”

Western got off to a shaky start when a Blues dump-in caromed off the side glass and onto the Mustangs’ goal. Rookie goalie Keyvan Hunt squeezed the pads and the puck slid just wide.

However, the ’Stangs finished strong. With 37 seconds left in the first period, Western was ahead 1-0. On a Western 5-on-3 power play, defenceman Chris Petrow blasted a one-timer from the point, beating Varsity Blues goalie Russ Brownell. Blueliner Ryan Waldner assisted on the play.

“[Waldner] set me up with a great pass and I put it in,” Petrow said.

“We knew we wanted to get shots from the point against U of T,” O’Donnell said. “They’re pretty aggressive, and we knew if we moved the puck well we’d get into that spot.”

Western out-shot Toronto 12-7 in the first period and 13-4 in the second frame. But at 17:58 of the second, Toronto forward Alex Nagribianko tied the game. Nagribianko fired a wrist shot from the right face-off circle into the top corner of the ’Stangs’ net. Anthony Pallotta assisted on the goal for the Blues.

Early in the third period, Toronto found success on the power play with a tic-tac-toe goal that left Hunt with no chance.

Varsity Blues defenceman Eddie Snetsinger slid the puck to partner Brendan Sherrard, who fed a cross-ice pass to Mark Heatley at the right face-off circle. Heatley buried the go-ahead goal.

Western responded a minute later on a power play of its own. Defenceman Marcus Smith found space in the hashmarks, and he snapped a low shot past Brownell. Kevin Richardson and Sal Peralta picked up the assists.

At 7:15 of the third period, the Mustangs capitalized on another man advantage. Petrow bagged his second goal of the game. His wrist shot from the point found its way through a crowd past Brownell. Centre Kyle Piwowarczyk assisted on the game-winning tally.

Western could have added an insurance marker when Toronto defenceman Darrell Simich fell at centre ice. Richardson grabbed the loose puck and raced in alone on Brownell, but his backhand attempt could not beat the Blues’ goalie.

With just four minutes left in the third period, Western defenceman Matt Manias took a crunching hit in the corner. Manias was slow to get up and then made his way to the locker room.

“We know what kind of team they are,” Petrow said.“They hit everything that moves, and we came out expecting that.”

It was largely a matter of special teams throughout the game. Toronto went 1-for-6 with the extra man and could not put a tying goal past Hunt, who made 18 saves.

“I didn’t think our power play helped us, because we had lots of chances but we didn’t score,” Toronto head coach Darren Lowe said. “Full credit to [Western] for putting the puck in on the power play because that’s how you could win in this game.”

The win gives Western 29 points, on par with division leader Lakehead University, who has played one fewer game.

“We want to hit the playoffs in stride,” Petrow said. “We know there are nine games left and we’re battling for every point.”

The men’s hockey team faced off against the Waterloo Warriors last night. Unfortunately, we were unable to include the final score before press time. For full coverage of Thursday night’s game, see Tuesday’s Gazette.

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