Lamb nets winner, 'Stangs sweep Lancers

Men's hockey captures OUA West title in 3-2 victory

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's hockey team congratulate each other on the ice

Laura Barclay

HOW SWEET IT IS. The men’s hockey team celebrates its Ontario University Athletics West division title after defeating the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 3-2 on Saturday night. With the win, the team earns a berth in the national championship tournament March 26 to 29 in Thunder Bay.

Western’s men’s hockey team swept the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday night at Thompson Arena, capturing the Ontario University Athletics West division title with a 3-2 victory.

The victory clinches the ’Stangs first appearance in the national championships since the 2004-05 season and they will host the McGill Redmen on Saturday for the Queen’s Cup.

“Western is a good team and you have to give them credit,” said Laurier head coach Kelly Nobes. “Tonight was just a playoff battle and they had one more than us.”

Mustangs netminder Brad Topping continued his outstanding playoff campaign as he stopped 29 of 31 shots.

“It takes great goaltending to win in the playoffs and Brad’s stepped up and done an unbelievable job for us,” Western head coach Clarke Singer said.

The first marker of the game didn’t come until five minutes into the second period when Western right-winger Yashar Farmanara sniped the puck over the right shoulder of Laurier goalie Jeff MacDougald to give Western the initial advantage.

Seven minutes later, Mustangs defenceman Ryan Martinelli added to the lead after his wrist shot from the point made its way through traffic and into the back of the net.

Laurier cut the lead in half just a minute later after Golden Hawks forward Nick Vergeer roofed his own rebound over Topping to make the score 2-1.

The Golden Hawks continued to mount their comeback bid two minutes later as Vergeer fed winger Craig Voakes an excellent lead pass that split the Western defence. Voakes made no mistake on a beautiful triple deke and slid a backhand past Topping to tie the game at two.

With less than three minutes remaining in the second frame, Western’s Kyle Lamb won the faceoff to Martinelli and redirected his point shot for the game-winning goal.

“I won the draw, Martinelli made a great shot, and I just happened to get a stick on it,” Lamb said. “It worked out in my favour. It’s awesome to contribute like that.”

Lamb was also a big contributor on special teams, as Laurier failed to capitalize on their four power play opportunities, including a 6-on-4 chance in the closing minutes after Laurier pulled MacDougald.

“Our penalty killers have done a great job all playoffs, not just tonight,” Singer said. “Especially late there with the game on the line.”

The contest ended amidst pushing and shoving resulting in both benches clearing and an additional 27 penalty minutes being handed out after the final buzzer.

Regardless of the sour ending, Topping credited the effort of his teammates for the victory.

“The whole game, guys were blocking shots, taking a hit, getting a puck in the face and we kept our composure,” he said. “We came together as a team when it mattered.”

This result seemed unlikely for a team that was .500 in late November before stringing together 10 straight victories.

“It was our goal to try and peak at this time and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it,” Singer said. “But we’ve got to get better if we’re going to win a championship.”

“The older guys brought a lot of leadership, but the younger guys stepped up too,” Topping said. “We have leadership by committee; it’s not just guys who wear the letters or fourth or fifth year guys.”

Those graduating players will have the opportunity to go out on top starting March 26 as the national championships begin in Thunder Bay.

Yet even with the escalated significance of each game, the team’s preparation remains the same.

“All year we’ve been playing our game, building up to this time of year, and we can’t change it now,” Topping said. “We’ve just got to keep playing our game.”

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