Western's Loss Is Mustangs' Gain
Western Mustangs RingetteEmily Renneberg
Coming off of a rebuilding year last season, the Western Mustang ringette team has again seen heavy player turnaround this 2018-2019 season, with half of their active roster populated with rookies. As last season showed a disappointing 4-22-1 record, the team has found it necessary to play the current season as an ‘A’ ranked team instead of in their historical ‘AA’ division, hoping that the lower division could bring them new success. Despite the new ‘A’ team label, during the regular season Western competes against smaller ‘AA’ club teams from across Ontario, as opposition from university programs are few and far between, and are typically only seen in tournament play and provincials.
The Western Mustangs ringette squad found themselves up against an unfamiliar rival on Saturday, October 27th in their second game of the regular season. Saturday night’s game brought the ‘Open AA’ Mississauga Mustangs to London, a contender the purple and white haven’t seen since 2014-2015, when Western came out on top of the London Invitational with a 6-4 win against the white and yellow. Early impressions seemed to give the Western team the game advantage with their full bench of 13 skaters, even before the first whistle, as Mississauga stepped out on the ice to play with only eight skaters and a goaltender to contend, equating to only a shift and half worth of women.
As they say, looks can be deceiving, and this rang true as the seasoned Mississauga team came stampeding out of the gates, keeping pace with Western and dominating offensive zone possession, generating plenty of shot opportunities early on in the first half. Despite being set back with a couple players in the penalty box within the first four minutes of the game, the Mississauga Mustangs kept the Western offence at bay during an intense 3-2 play in the Mississauga end, and were able to put up two quick goals half-way through the first.
By the time the buzzer took both the Mustang teams to intermission, Western goaltender Caroline Geoffrey saw three goals slip by her -- two of which came from defensive lapses where the play turned into one-on-none chances for Mississauga who easily found mesh each time -- and zero points for the home jerseys.
With the second period was underway, it was clear that Mississauga was beginning to lose some of their original steam as their short bench began to wear out their stamina, creating more offensive time for the Western team. Shots were fired, but seemed to find either the goalie’s chest, were thwarted by the defensive sticks of the visiting team, or were swiped from the air by Claudie Carpentier, who was minding the net. Western began to struggle with generating an effective offence, resulting in few chances to put the ring past the posts. Although Mississauga was quickly losing the speed seen in the first period, their veteran skill and familiarity within their own players allowed them to capitalize the neutral zone, connect on intelligent passes, and stack up a 7-0 lead heading into the remaining minutes of the last half.
Still trying to avoid jinxing Carpentier by refusing to use the superstitious “shutout” term, it did appear as though the game would end with Western having nothing to show for on the scoreboard. However, with 1:57 left the Western team potted a goal from rookie Laura Soper on a 3-2 favoured to the purple, but unfortunately left them with too little time on the clock to lessen the spread. The final score of 7-1 went to the yellow and white Mississauga Mustangs. Radio Western caught up with both Soper and Carpentier after the action to pick up some thoughts from the last 40 minutes.
The Western team played the following Sunday night in Waterloo against their longtime competitors Waterloo-Grier, falling 9-4 after leading the first period 1-3 but having 8 goals against in the second. Looking to still find their first win of the season, the team plays next in the Oshawa Tournament starting November 2nd, with their first game against McMaster for some university team action.