Two goals called back as Mustangs men capitalize to beat Badgers

Western enjoys a winning weekend

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western’s men’s hockey team was in full stride heading into its weekend tilt against the Brock Badgers, having won five straight games. Saturday night was no different as the high-flying Mustangs downed the Badgers 4-1 on home ice.

Western opened the scoring after an uneventful first period. Forward Sal Peralta circled into the high slot on the power play and fed a wide-open Jesse Boucher at the side of the net " a gimme for his 13th tally of the season and his fifth in his last five games.

The Mustangs doubled the lead 43 seconds later on a two-man advantage. After a turnover behind the Badgers’ net, the puck squirted out front to captain Craig Kennedy, who fed linemate Steve Benedetti for his 10th of the season and the eventual game-winner.

Benedetti discussed how well the team has jelled since the first half of the season.

“It’s the things we’re doing on the ice that make the difference,” he said. “The first half of the year, the guys were not concentrating on their roles, and now we’re playing better hockey and everyone is on the same page.”

The Badgers, who are jockeying for a playoff position, turned the momentum 43 seconds into third and cut the lead to 2-1. Brock, who outshot Western 32-26, capitalized on a neutral-zone turnover which eventually sprung forward Tyler Leggo on a breakaway. Leggo beat Western netminder Brad Topping through the five-hole for his seventh of the season.

Not to be outdone, a feisty Mustangs offence restored the two-goal advantage when Jesse Boucher danced out from behind the net to fire his second of the game behind Badgers goalie Matthew Harpwood.

The game wasn’t without controversy, as two Badgers goals were called back, the second of which would have cut the Western lead to 3-2 midway through the third.

“At that point, it was our third goal because we had one called back against us in the early part of the game,” said Badgers coach Murray Nystrom. “In that particular case, we thought our player was pushed into Topping.”

Topping’s solid performance included timely saves.

“I thought Topping was good, but he was really good at the right times,” Nystrom said. “He made some key saves when we were swarming and that’s a credit to him and the Western team " they’re going to be dangerous in the playoffs.”

The prospect of playoff hockey should make for an exciting series two weekends from now in Thunder Bay, where the Mustangs play the second half of a four-game home-and-home set against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

“We get up for games like that and we love playing Lakehead,” Benedetti said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that have been here for a while and the new guys are learning what it’s like.”

Western bench boss Clarke Singer’s calculated and unwavering one-game-at-a-time approach to winning has kept the ’Stangs focused.

“You’ve got to keep looking forward to the next shift and build on what happened, then move forward,” Singer said, “I think we did that tonight by sticking to our game.”

According to Singer, this stoic composition shone through Saturday at the John Labatt Centre. He cited balance and role players as the team’s greatest strengths moving forward.

“We’ve got three or four lines that are not only playing well but doing a good job in their roles,” Singer said. “I really like where we are right now " we’re playing hard and physical, and I like the way we match up in the playoffs.”

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