Mustangs win third ever Queen's Cup

Topping takes MVP trophy with 30 key saves against McGill

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Mustangs men's hockey team photo

Jody Bailey

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. The Mustangs hockey team captured the Ontario University Athletics championship this past Saturday after downing the McGill Redmen 2-1 at Thompson Arena.

The men’s hockey team rode a stellar performance by goaltender Brad Topping to a 2-1 victory over the McGill Redmen at Thompson Arena Saturday night, winning its third Queen’s Cup.

Topping, who took home the Jack Kennedy Trophy as the game’s most valuable player, made 30 saves including several key stops late in the third period to preserve the Mustangs lead.

“[Topping] was amazing,” Western captain Sal Peralta said after the game. “We needed a big game from him and he came through for us " he deserves the MVP.”

“What can you say about him,” Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer added. “You can’t win without great goaltending and he’s been one of our best players for every game throughout the playoffs.”

Topping was nothing short of tranquil Saturday night, calmly making several big saves with Redmen constantly buzzing around his crease.

“I tried to play it minute-by-minute and not look at the clock,” Topping admitted, adding he didn’t even realize he had made 30 saves. “[McGill] has a lot of speed and offence but our defence did a great job keeping them to the outside. That made my job a lot easier.”

To his credit, Redmen goalie Kevin Desfosses was outstanding at the other end, matching Topping practically save for save throughout the game, including a key play where he cut across the crease to rob Mustangs forward Yashar Farmanara on a two-on-one break halfway through the second frame.

Mustangs defenceman Ryan Martinelli opened the scoring on the power play with five minutes remaining in the first period, wiring a point shot past Desfosses. Forwards Kevin Baker and Keaton Turkiewicz drew assists on the goal.

Western extended its lead midway through the second, when McGill defenceman Erik Stilling coughed up the puck deep in his own zone to forward Aaron Snow, who quickly set up Turkiewicz for the Mustangs’ second goal.

The crowd of 700 was quieted, however, when forward Ben Gazdic responded for McGill just three minutes later with a point shot that found the back of the net.

From the opening faceoff, the Mustangs played an up-tempo, physical game, peppering Desfosses with 27 shots and manhandling the speedier, yet smaller McGill squad along the boards.

Gazdic admitted after the game that his team had trouble matching the Mustangs’ intensity.

“I think we started well but we faded a little bit and that’s where they got us,” Gazdic said. “We got away from our game plan tonight and that cost us. In a one-game series you can’t afford to lapse at all.”

Coming into the game, McGill forwards Marko Kovacevic and Ontario University Athletics East Rookie of the Year Alexandre Picard-Hooper had combined to score 19 points in seven playoff games, however, they were both held off the score sheet Saturday night.

The Mustangs’ towering defencemen Martinelli and Adam Nemeth drew the shutdown assignment against the McGill snipers and physically dominated the pair throughout the game.

“Picard-Hooper and Kovacevic have been great for them in the playoffs so we knew we had to shut down that line,” Singer said. “I thought that Martinelli and Nemeth did a great job against those guys.”

Goalie Brad Topping saves another shot

Western’s defence also played a big role in shutting down McGill’s power play " ranked second in the post-season coming into the game.

The Redmen were a woeful zero for five with the man advantage Saturday night, including two potentially game changing power plays in the third period.

“Western defended our power play really well,” Redmen coach Martin Raymond said. “They’re a big team and they put us under a lot of pressure.”

Western’s work short handed has been tops in the league throughout the playoffs, allowing just three power play goals over 39 penalty kills.

“There were definitely a lot of sleepless nights for [penalty kill coach] Pat Powers,” Singer said. “We talked about it all week and watched a lot of video. I thought our penalty killers did a great job, especially in the third period.

“Goaltending and special teams wins games and we were fortunate to have both of those going for us tonight.”

The next stop for both teams will be the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in Thunder Bay.

The week-long layoff before the CIS championships will be a welcome rest for a weary Mustangs team, which, according to Singer, is fighting through a number of injuries.

“We have a lot of little bumps and bruises right now,” Singer said. “We have to take a couple days off and get the guys some rest, but then we will get back to working on all the little things.”

Veteran Peralta " who on Saturday night became the first Mustang to ever win two Queen’s Cups " stressed focus and dedication for his team in the lead-up to the tournament, which kicks off on March 26.

“We have to get back to practice and work hard all week,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy being Ontario champions right now and then we’re going to focus on winning the CIS championship.

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