Badgering the witness: Western hangs on

Brock gives home side a two-OT scare in Game Three

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

OUA Men's Hockey Quarter-final

Jon Purdy

YOU'RE GIVING ME THE SHIVERS, BABY. The men's hockey team battled hard and stuffed some Badgers, taxidermist-style, in its three-game series this past weekend.

The Mustangs opened their run to the Queen’s Cup this weekend, knocking off the Brock Badgers in the Ontario University Athletics divisional quarter-final.

Western beat the Badgers 2-0 in a listless opening to the best-of-three series Thursday night at Thompson Arena.

The goaltending was stellar on both ends, with Western’s Brad Topping stopping 26 shots for the shutout and Brock’s Tom Lee making 26 saves in the loss.

Lee’s performance included a jaw-dropping glove save on Sean Courtney early in the third period in a game where every inch " and goal " was hard-fought.

“We can really ride off [Lee],” said Brock defenceman Pat Selin. “He’s always been there for us throughout the year, and we seem to bounce back really well when he plays good. We just have to trust ourselves and do what we need to.”

Despite a flat start from both squads, the Mustangs opened the scoring early after fourth-liner Jacob King picked up a loose rebound before shoveling it past a screened Lee.

The Badgers, minus top scorer Ryan Del Monte, lacked focus on the power play. Managing only two shots in the first 10 minutes of the final period, the Badgers looked more like a team protecting a lead than a desperate squad looking to tie.

“Everybody’s got to step up to fill that void,” Lee said. “I guess it’s a matter of some guys looking in the mirror and just fighting a little harder. I think we just didn’t have that second or third effort tonight.”

Brock head coach Murray Nystrom stressed a need for fundamentals in the offensive zone.

“We didn’t get pucks on the net enough and we didn’t have traffic at the net consistently.”

Thursday’s loss was a wake-up call for the Badgers, as they responded with a 3-1 victory in St. Catharines Saturday night. Del Monte, John J. Martin and Tyler Leggo tallied for Brock and Chris Petrow scored the Purple and Silver’s lone goal.

Unfazed by Saturday’s setback, the Mustangs returned to Thompson on Sunday to take the decisive game of the series, 3-2, in a double-overtime thriller.

Western sniper Kevin Richardson sent Brock packing with the winning goal off a feed from veteran forward Steve Benedetti. Both Benedetti and leading scorer Sal Peralta found the net Sunday after a slow start to the series.

The Mustangs take their winning act on the road this week to play a tough Waterloo Warriors team coming off a first-round bye. The teams share similar goalie statistics " both Topping and Waterloo’s Curtis Darling have a .917 regular season save percentage.

For the third straight game, Western centre Ryan Hare and hard-nosed forward Kyle Piwowarczyk missed action. The two forwards’ returns will be much-needed against Waterloo since the Mustangs like to run all four lines.

“The playoffs are always a battle, and you have to battle hard for everything you get,” said Western head coach Clarke Singer. “There’s not a lot you change tactically " you just have to work hard.

“Good hockey teams play to a one-goal game on most nights. We were on the right side of it [in this series].”

The OUA quarter-final begins tomorrow night in Waterloo.

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