Men's hockey team re-commits to hard work

Squad gets focused for the quarter-final

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

* Game One of the Ontario University Athletics quarter-final was last night but hadn’t finished by press time. The following interviews were conducted before the game.

The Mustangs men’s hockey team got a serious scare last weekend from the Brock Badgers, who pushed the ’Stangs to the brink of elimination in a tight opening-round matchup.

After a first-round bye, the Waterloo Warriors will host a battered and bruised Mustang squad that lost all four of the two teams’ meetings with erratic effort, according to Western head coach Clarke Singer.

“We’ve played a good 40 or 50 minutes, but we’ve yet to have played a good 60-minute stretch against them,” Singer said. “[The Warriors] are going to play the same in the first five minutes as the last five minutes and we have to match that consistency against them.”

The men’s squad has struggled scoring goals this postseason, especially on the power play, which has looked anemic at best.

“I think special teams are going to be really important,” Singer said. “Waterloo has got a great penalty kill with [goalie Curtis Darling] back there. We only scored one power-play goal in three games against Brock, and that’s not good enough if we want to win this next series.”

A hard-nosed Western squad has to bear down on the road, where it struggled with discipline against Brock. The team took four penalties in the third period of the Game Two loss.

The Mustangs battled these mistakes early in the season, blowing two late leads against Waterloo.

“We can’t sit back against them,” said captain Craig Kennedy. “I think this year that when we sat back, we got in trouble, so we have to just keep pushing the pedal forward and keep the pressure on.”

All four lines have to click " all three playoff games thus far have been one-goal games, which suits the team’s current incarnation.

“I think that we’re a team that’s a little different than the types of teams we have had in the past,” Singer said. “We’re built more around a grit and tenacity which fits a one-goal style of hockey game " a little more close-checking.”

Wingers Sal Peralta and Kevin Richardson netted their first goals of the playoffs Sunday night; the two were absent from the scoresheet in the first two games of the Brock series and their emergence could bring Western over the hump.

“I’m happy to get the monkey off my back,” Peralta said. “We weren’t too concerned. If we just play hard every game in the playoffs, we should be fine against Waterloo.”

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