Western's Preseason Concludes With Win
Western Mustangs Women's HockeyEva Nagel
Yesterday afternoon brought the Western Mustangs’ 2018-19 women’s hockey preseason campaign to an end with a too close for comfort 4-2 victory over the Windsor Lancers at Thompson Arena. The Mustangs gave up the lead twice and took until midway through the third period to finally go ahead for good, off the stick of veteran April Clark. Until the late stages of the game, the purple and white consistently struggled to contain a very physical Lancers squad. Eventually however, constant offensive pressure into the Windsor zone gave the Western defense much needed breathing room to run out the clock and go back to the dressing room with the win.
When the game began, the home team controlled most of the momentum. The Lancers iced the puck 3 times in the first three minutes, with only one faceoff occurring in the Mustangs’ half. Western had several golden opportunities to get on the board in the early part of the first period. Around the 15:30 mark, Kitchener’s Alyssa Chiarello spotted an unguarded Mustang with a wide-open cage. Her behind the net pass unfortunately bounced off a skate, ending the scoring threat. Another shot rang off the cross bar, followed soon after by a Claire Balas blast which deflected off a Lancer’s knee. At 11:05, Windsor’s Alix Reiter took a holding call, giving Western their first of several power plays. There was a 2-on-1 play early in the man advantage as Evra Levesque broke out with defender Anthea Lais. At the last second, Levesque passed it off, but the puck bounced harmless over the blade of Lais’s stick. With 9:34 left in the frame, Beatrice Arsenault Dufour’s shot bounced off the body of Lancer goalie Molly Jenkins, popping up into the air. With her stick firmly parallel to the crossbar, Waterdown’s Rachel Armstrong batted the puck out of the air and into the net, giving the Mustangs a 1-0 lead. Renae Nevills picked up the second assist. Despite a late penalty kill, as Lais was sent to the box for hooking, the purple and white kept control of the game, heading off the ice with the score unchanged.
During the second period, the momentum tilted more in favor of Windsor, despite Western still leading by period's end. For the first 10 minutes, the Mustang offensive fumbled three solid offensive chances, two of them occurring on the same play. At 15:13 of the period, a Western player just barely missed backing the puck past her own netminder. With 10:30 remaining, both teams made goalie changes, with Kaitlyn Booth replacing Tareya Webster for the Mustangs, and Jaydlin Spooner replacing St. Thomas’s own Molly Jenkins for the visitors. Almost immediately, the Lancers came off the bench with a new sense of purpose. Despite Taylor Shepard taking a penalty for bodychecking with 8:39 left, Windsor seemed to be the team with the extra skater. After April Clark fed a streaking Shailyn Waites with a fantastic pass, the Mustang #3 was stopped by Spooner and so was the home side’s momentum. Lancer forward Jessica Gribbon soon managed a shorthanded breakaway, which was stopped by Booth. The Oakville native had her hands full in short order, stopping a wraparound attempt and the subsequent rebound. At 5:21, Taylor Conte flicked the puck past Booth to tie the score at 1 apiece, with Shepard claiming the lone assist. Just over a minute later, Gribbon took Windsor’s second bodychecking penalty of the contest. With around 30 seconds left in the subsequent power play, Shana Alexander poked a shot around Spooner to retake the lead, 2-1 with Edie Levesque earning the assist. But the Lancers responded with a pair of quality scoring chances, due to the lanes opened by their physical play. Yet, the Mustangs managed to end the period how it had started, with a lone goal advantage.
Said advantage was erased shortly after the third began. Windsor maintained a constant offensive presence through the first five minutes, Western back on their heels. With 16:05 left in regulation, two Lancers workhorsed the puck past two Mustangs just outside the crease. Their inadvertent screen made Booth unable to see it fly by her to tie the game, 2-2. Emma Welburn scored the goal with Gribbon and Reiter earning the assists. Ironically, this would be the last gasp from the Windsor team. Just half a minute later, Clark almost passed the puck to a teammate in the visitor’s zone before deciding to take the shot, burying it to reclaim the lead, 3-2. Shortly after, Armstrong rang a shot off the bar. At 14:37, Shepard took her second penalty of the game, this time for tripping. It would prove costly as with 13:36 remaining, Chiarello from the side of the net reached her stick to the opposite corner, stuffing the puck for the two-goal advantage. Clark and Lais assisted on the play. Then, Western defense got to work, with Booth stopping two quality attempts and Clark battling for the puck all over the ice. 10:22 marked the time as Chiarello picked up a hooking call, but Western killed off the Windsor power play. With five minutes left in the game, the Lancers pulled their goalie, giving the away team a 6-on-5 advantage for the remainder of the period. The Mustangs formation around Booth, combined with key offensive rushes prevented the Lancers from maintaining sustained attack in the home zone, allowing Western to come away with the learning experience win.
The Mustangs are off for Thanksgiving break, but come back on the ice Tuesday October 9th for over a week of practice to iron out the remaining kinks in preparation for the October 19th home opener against the archrival Queens Gaels.