Western Men's Hockey

Mustangs Fall to Golden Hawks in Shootout

Western Mustangs Men's Hockey

Eva Nagel

After successfully holding off the Waterloo Warriors, 4-3, on Friday night, the Mustangs of men’s hockey tried to replicate the success against the winless Wilfried Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday. Instead, Western once again fell behind the .500 mark on the season with the visitors picked up their first victory in a chippy affair that went the distance, ending via the much-maligned shootout. Both Mustang shooters were foiled on their attempts, while Laurier beat netminder Luke Peressini on two successive goals to claim the win.

The first period quickly established Mustang dominance. One minute into regulation play, and Laurier’s Anthony Conti was sent to the box on a kneeing minor. Western had many chances on the ensuing power play but were denied by stellar netminding from freshman Golden Hawk Tyler Fassl. Both Mustang shots on net and Fassl’s saves, continued rising after the penalty had expired. In particular, a blast from the point with just over 14 minutes remaining bounced off the goalie’s pads and to the opposite side of the crease. A Mustang and Fassl both dove for it, a wide-open cage behind them, with the latter covering it at the last second. After this point, the action would swing between even back-and-forth and full Laurier dominance. At the 10:30 mark, a rush of Golden Hawks swarmed Peressini’s crease, managing to draw a holding penalty from Oakville’s Theo Lewis. On the ensuing powerplay, Laurier’s Danny Hanlon drew the veteran Mustang out with a deke, but two quick sticks from purple & white clad defenders shut the door. After the successful penalty, Western managed two close changes during the rest of the period. With six minutes remaining, a great cycle sees the puck squirt on to a Mustang stick just outside the crease with an empty net. However, the subsequent shot was saved just barely by the tip of Fassl’s glove. Two minutes later, Ray Huether rang a blast of the crossbar.  Neither team could get on the scoresheet, ending the first period 0-0.

Just like in the first, the Mustangs started the second off hot. Unlike before, they converted this momentum into points. With a minute and a half gone by, Ethan Szypula shoots up the right-hand side on a 2-on-1 break. At the last moment, Szypula passed it to Trevor Warnaar, who tucks it in neatly via the bottom left corner. Cordell James picked up the second assist. After a few minutes, Laurier regained their composure, forcing Peressini to make a couple of clutch saves with shots from the point.  The Golden Hawk’s pressure continued throughout, however failing to convert on any of their chances. Their biggest opportunities came after 4:49, when Western captain Jonathan Laser was given a 2-minute minor along with a 10-minute misconduct for checking to the head. However, the purple & white managed to hold off Laurier’s vaunted power play unit from capitalizing on the man advantage. After 40, the Mustangs headed back to the dressing room without their captain, yet ahead in the game, 1-0.

The final frame was the polar opposite of the opening twenty minutes. The first period showed Peresinni off his game, bobbling rebounds and caught a bit too often outside of his crease. But the other Mustangs were able to bail him out with good defense and attacking rushes. The third, however, saw the netminder back to his usual calm poise and penchant for making great saves.  His teammates were the ones making critical missteps. The first of these came after a steady powerplay cycle in the Laurier zone. Just after the penalty expired, the puck landed on the stick blade of Warnaar, with the goalie out of position. The Brantford native from point blank fired his shot high and wide, completely missing the net.  With 14:04 left in regulation, Peressini was forced to make a spectacular toe save. At 11:54, the Golden Hawks tied the score as Jeremy Pullara fired from just above the faceoff circle, beating the Mustang goalie. Christian Mroczkowski and Michael Silveri notched the assist on the play.

It was here the Mustangs started to lose control. With 7 minutes left, Western was given a bench penalty. Then at 4:55, Trent Ouellette was sent to the box for slashing, and the bench received another penalty, giving Laurier a two-man advantage. Peressini kept the Mustangs in it while the rest was scrambling on their heels. No more scoring took place, however there was a heated exchange with under a minute left in regulation between Ouellette and Golden Hawk Jake Henderson, as they got their sticks tangled up along the benches.

Western had two prime chances to win in on the 5 minute 3-on-3 frame. At one point, there seemed to be a Mustangs goal on an amazing bit of stickwork between Laser and Sepnser Cobbold. However, it was waived off, I think for a high stick. The second chance came in the last 50 seconds when Theo Lewis took a holding penalty. The Mustangs’ could not convert on the man advantage, which meant the game would be decided in a shootout. Szypula had his shot saved by Fassl, while Peressini failed to stop Laurier’s Anthony Sorrentino from scoring. That put match point on the stick of Kenny Huether. The freshman’s attempt was stopped by Fassl, giving the Golden Hawks their first win on the year.

Western has the rest of the week off before taking on the Windsor Lancers, Friday at 7pm from Thompson Arena. Laurier has only four days to celebrate the victory before turning their attention to the Guelph Gryphons on November 8 in a home contest.