Purple & White Start The Year Right
Western Mustangs Men's HockeyRachael Bishop
The Western Mustangs Men’s hockey team opened 2019 the way that it finished 2018: with a win; the team’s sixth win in a row. Understandably, Friday night’s game against the Guelph Gryphons started off slowly as the Mustangs had not played a meaningful in over a month, as Western conceded the first goal just over two minutes into the game. However, the purple and white would tie the game less than two minutes later, and took the lead at 11:49 of the first period and never looked back in a 4-1 victory.
Starting goaltender Luke Peresinni continued his solid play making 34 saves in last night’s win-- his fifth game in a row conceding only one goal, thereby cementing his status as one of the top goalies in Ontario University Athletics (OUA). Peresinni has managed to stay healthy this season, a luxury that the Western Mustangs did not have last season, and struggled mightily in the first half of the season because of it. This season could not be any different, a healthy Peresinni has a .935 save percentage thus far this season, good for fourth in the OUA. Peresinni has also contributed to the Mustang’s offence, he scored an empty net goal in Western’s last win in 2018 (a 4-1 win over the Windsor Lancers) and added an assist on Western’s empty net goal last night. Peresinni has started all but two of Western’s games this season, and the Mustangs would be wise to ride him the rest of the season if the team wants to make a deep playoff run.
On the other side of things, the Gryphons starting goaltender Evan Cormier signed a professional Amateur Tryout contract , with the Binghamton Devils, the American Hockey League Affiliate of the New Jersey Devils over the Christmas break. Cormier, formerly of the Saginaw Spirit in the Ontario Hockey League was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fourth round (105th overall) of the National Hockey League draft in 2016. Cormier’s recent pro turn meant that starting goaltender duties fall to backup Andrew Masters, a second-year transfer from University of Miami (Ohio). Masters has large shoes to fill, as Cormier, like Peresinni had been one of most consistent goaltenders in the OUA during the first half of the season. However, Masters was up to the task as he made 34 saves on 37 shots (Western’s fourth goal was a shorthanded empty net goal by leading Mustangs scorer Anthony Stefano).
Both teams average over 30 shots a game on net, (Guelph in fact averages the most shots in the OUA with 38 shots on net per game, yet scores fewer than three goals a game), so going into the game, one expected it to be a low scoring, high shooting affair. And while it was not low scoring, the two teams combined for 72 shots on goal, making for an entertaining night of action-packed hockey full of many penalties and chirps aplenty (noted Mustangs agitator Mitchell Brooks was in the middle of the most the physical play, and made a beautiful pass to Mitchell Fitzmorris for Western’s first goal).
With the win, Western finds itself in fourth place in the OUA West division, just five back of first place Brock Badgers who overtook the Ryerson Rams as Ryerson with a 5-0 win over the Ryerson Rams, handing the Rams its third straight loss. Western will try to continue its hot streak with a game against last place University of Toronto Varsity Blues tonight at 7 pm at Thompson Arena.