Mustangs fail to capitalize on power play

Western falls to second place in Far West division

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

It was a game of missed opportunities for the Mustangs men’s hockey team on Thursday night, as the Waterloo Warriors squeaked out a 4-3 victory at Thompson Arena.

Western only capitalized on one of its nine power play opportunities, while the Warriors scored twice with the man advantage.

“Waterloo did a very good job killing penalties and I thought we weren’t as crisp as we would usually be,” Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer said.

The first scoring chance went to the Mustangs as a Ryan Waldner slapshot nearly trickled past Waterloo netminder Jimmy Bernier two minutes into the game.

It wasn’t until 11:45 into the opening frame that the first goal was notched when Sal Peralta scored on his own rebound. Waterloo, however, quickly answered back, scoring short-handed five minutes later to tie the game at one.

Two minutes later, minor penalties were assigned to each team, including a questionable slashing call on Peralta even his opponent disagreed with.

“[Talking in the penalty box], he didn’t know what the penalty was for either. We were just laughing about it,” Peralta said.

Four minutes into the second period and up two men, Waterloo buried a one-timer to take a one-goal lead. The Warriors nearly added to their tally 30 seconds later when the puck escaped the Western defence. In a great individual effort, Waldner retreated and managed to stop the rush and force a faceoff.

Following a Waterloo giveaway, forward Ryan Hare sniped the puck top corner to tie the game, 8:50 into the second stanza.

After two periods of play, the teams headed to the dressing room tied up.

At 4:29 of the final frame, Waterloo’s leading scorer Shane Hart managed to outlast Western’s goalie Keyvan Hunt. As the rookie netminder went down, Hart went high to give his team a 3-2 lead.

Seven minutes later, winger Kevin Richardson hit the post on a shot from the point, but the ’Stangs couldn’t manage a goal on a 5-on-3 power play. Nevertheless, continuing the spirit of the hard-fought contest, Luc Martin squared the game at three with eight minutes remaining.

The constant momentum shifts were recognizable to Warriors head coach Brian Bourque.

“Either one team was up by one, tied, or down by one the entire game,” he said. “I thought both teams played very well.”

Unfortunately, the tie was short-lived " David Edgeworth and the Warriors scored the game winner less than a minute later.

The ’Stangs failed to net an equalizer despite outshooting their opponents 17 to 6 in the third and Bernier made 32 saves to claim the victory.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Purple and Silver, as it plays three games in subsequent nights beginning Thursday at the Laurier Golden Hawks.

“Every game’s getting more important, it’s the way things go,” Singer said. “[It’s] going to be like playoff hockey and it’s going to be physical” Singer said.

While Western has lost two of its last three, the squad isn’t worried.

“We’re not concerned at all. We know we have a good team and we’re confident,” Peralta said. “We were a little sluggish coming back from Germany and I think we’re finding our step.”

The loss gives Waterloo the Ontario University Athletics’ Far West division lead, while Western drops to second place. With the playoffs less than a month away and four divisional teams separated by three points, the division crown will likely be earned in the final few games.

But according to Peralta, there aren’t many adjustments to be made.

“Just keep up the work ethic, do the little things, win the battles and find a way to win.”

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