Ravens Capture OUA Bronze, Advance To Nationals
Western Mustangs Men's HockeyJohn Urban
The Western Mustangs poured 42 shots onto Francois Brassard’s net, but they couldn’t buy a goal, as they fell to the Carleton Ravens 3-0 for the OUA Bronze Medal. After having a 1-0 series lead over the Guelph Gryphons in the OUA-West Finals, it was the Mustangs third opportunity at qualifying for the U Sports National Championship tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta. For Carleton they now advance to the national stage for the first time since 2016, when they defeated the Guelph Gryphons ironically while hosting an OUA Bronze Medal match at the Ice House.
“You know we thought it was an outstanding effort by our group. We did everything that we wanted to do” said Head Coach Clarke Singer, who will have to wait another year to get back to the U Sports National tournament, not having won it all since 2002. Singer continued, “I couldn’t ask for anything more from the group, their coach (Carleton's Shaun Van Allen) said in the handshake line that you know we should be the ones of the plane Monday, not them. So that’s a credit to our guys and how hard they played.”
The Mustangs came out of the gate flying, not allowing the Ravens a shot on Luke Peressini and pouring the pressure on in the offensive zone over the first 5 minutes of the game. However, moments later Dakota Odgers, son of former NHL Captain of the San Jose Sharks Jeff Odgers, would beat the Western netminder to his glove side. Unfortunately for the thousands of screaming Ravens fans, the puck didn’t beat the goal post and the would be first goal of the game was quickly waved off by the official.
The game truly came down to defensive mistakes at the 11-minute mark of the first two periods. At 11:03 of the 1st, Dalen Hedges, a CCHL Champion (2012) and NCAA – Hockey East – Champion (2016), would score the opening marker on a defensive blunder. The local product of Ottawa, Ontario would create some magic on a forechecking effort, stealing the puck and shelving it on a backhander in one fluent motion. In the second stanza at the 11:40 mark, Jared Steege would capitalize on an Adam Sinclair giveaway in the defensive zone to extend it to a 2-0 lead. The OUA-East Rookie of the Year Jacob Smith would grab his first goal of the playoffs, after scoring a team high 17 during the regular season, on an empty net with 1:55 left in the game for the 3-0 final.
The game not only draws a conclusion to the Mustangs 2018/19 season, it also ends the university athletics careers of: Spencer Cobbold, Trent Oullette, Ray Huether, Trevor Warnaar and Captain Jonathan Laser. The senior crew combined for over 450 OUA regular season games in a Mustangs uniform.
“Kind of look at the big picture, you know it’s been four years and yeah, you know it hits you hard. I mean I didn’t want this to be my last game, I wanted to fight for Nationals, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” stated Ray Huether after his final game as a Western Mustangs. The Londesborough, Ontario native finished his career with 102 regular season games scoring 30 goals and 57 points over that time, while adding three goals in these playoffs and now leaves the reins to his younger brother Kenny.
“So close and for it to end like this, it definitely does leave a sour taste in our mouths and I’m sure all the returning guys are going to have a good summer and continue to improve. Knowing that we got a good team and could do good things if we can continue to improve,” said Stephen Desrocher post-game. The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick in his sophomore season at Western, ended up leading the team in playoff points from the blueline with 2 goals and 5 assists. He along with the core of Cordell James, Anthony Stefano, Kyle Petit and more, will be charged with the task of surpassing the bar set this season, Nationals or Bust.