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Media Credit: Jacob Russell

Western Mustang's men hockey team loose a heartbreaker to the Brock Badgers

Etay Kuperman

The Mustangs Men’s hockey team fell to the Brock Badgers 4-2, in a classic Saturday Night tilt at Thompson Arena last night. Western came into the affair sporting a 7-8-3 record after 18 games, whereas the Badgers sported a 10-8-1, through their 19 contests.

The Badgers came out firing early in the 1st Period, with two quick goals off the rush from Adam Berg and Frankie Pucci. Before even three minutes had elapsed, the Mustangs trailed 2-0. The Badgers kept up the pressure all throughout the 1st frame, and the Mustangs struggled to get any shots at all towards Brock netminder Mario Culina, who only faced 8 shots, compared to his infinitely more busy counterpart Luke Peressini, who shook off the first 2 goals admirably and kept Western in it, stopping 21 of the 23 shots Brock had in the 1st period alone.

The 2nd period seemed to be where the Mustangs woke up, carrying the play throughout much of the 20 minutes, until their pressure forced Brock into back to back penalties, leading to a crucial 5 on 3 halfway through the period. Western needed to seize the moment in order to fet back into the contest, and they did just that, as a spilled rebound by Culina dropped favourably to Kolten Olynek, who deposited it into the left corner to cut the Badgers lead in half.

The man advantage tally seemed to boosted the Mustangs’ 5 on 5 play, and the momentum shifted towards the home team from there on out, as they tested Culina over and over, however, the tying goal eluded them for the rest of the 2nd.

 Either way, the game was on from this point, and the 3rd period was a back and forth affair, with both teams having chances on the Power Play, including a 5 on 3 for Brock that Western’s penalty killers did a great job neutralizing, including some fearless shot blocks and key saves from Peressini in between the pipes. Special teams once again boosted the Mustangs’ 5 on 5 play, as after the lengthy penalty kill ended, Western turned up the pressure, attempting to get the tying tally. They would do so with just under 3 minutes left, as Austin Osmanski found himself one on one with a Brock defender during an ill-advised line change. Osmanski stretched the play out and waited for his trailer to arrive, who happened to be defenseman Rylan Bechtel, who walked in and launched a rocket of a slap shot past Culina, tying the game at two and setting the scene for a great finish.

The clock wound down until there was under a minute left, with both teams deadlocked at two, seemingly headed for overtime. However, some extended zone time from Brock led to a point shot from Skylar Pacheco, which found its way through heavy traffic in front and past Peressini, breaking Mustang hearts and giving Brock the lead with just 25 seconds left. On the ensuing faceoff, the Mustangs attempted a mad dash rush to try and equalize, they couldn’t establish pressure however, and with the goalie pulled, it was all too easy for Ryan Burton to slide in the empty net tally. The Mustangs grew into the game admirably, but at the end of the day the early Badger blitz was just enough to keep their noses in front. Shots for the game ended 43 to 38 in favour of the Badgers. Western falls to 7-9-3 on the campaign. The Mustangs will look to rebound on the road January 25th, heading up to Orillia to battle with Lakehead.