The Mustangs dropped a 2-1 decision to the Warriors on Saturday night at Thompson Arena.
Coming into the game, Western University had their spot in the Ontario University Athletics playoffs locked up, while Waterloo University was still fighting for a place in the tournament. The difference in urgency between the two teams was clear.
“I thought our first period was pretty good. But, you know, after that we kinda tailored off,” said veteran forward Anthony Stefano.
“They wanted it a lot more than us, right? It showed tonight.”
Head coach Clarke Singer seemed to agree with his third year winger.
“You know, not a great effort, I thought, coming off an emotional win on Thursday,” Singer said after the game. “Full credit to Waterloo, I mean they're battling for a playoff spot. I thought we would have had more tonight. You know, give up 51 shots, I think is disappointing.”
even though the team was playing in their third game in four nights – which would understandably lead to some fatigue – Stefano refused to let the team use that excuse and Singer pointed out that the Warriors were dealing with the same difficult schedule, also playing three in four.
While it wasn’t a good game overall for the Mustangs, it didn’t start . The team put together a solid first period, but were unable to come away with a goal.
Western was able to find the game’s opening marker early in the second period, though, as Stefano ripped a puck home off a Rylan Bechtel pass just over a minute into the second. After the game, the Sault Ste. Marie native noted that the goal was a set play for the Mustangs.
“We were talking about it before the game: trying to run some plays, make some stuff happen off the draw,” explained Stefano, when asked about the goal. “So, Bechs made a nice play down the wall, made a great pass. I just found some open ice there and just kinda hit it. I had that chance earlier where I one-[timed] it. So, I just wanted to get it up a little more there.”
The one goal lead didn’t last long though. Waterloo’s Jack Scanlan picked up a puck within a scrum in front of the Mustangs net and tied the game at one, three minutes after Stefano’s opening marker.
Moments after tying the game, during a Warriors powerplay, Owen Burnell tipped a point shot past Luke Peressini, scoring the game winning goal at the mid-way point of the game.
The Mustangs outshot Waterloo 16-13 in the final period as they pushed for a game-tying goal but they were unable to beat Warriors goaltender, Trevor Martin.
Although the Mustangs have spot in the playoffs guaranteed, the loss on Saturday night ensured that they would not earn home-ice advantage. Both Stefano and Singer explained that vaulting into the top-four in the West should have provided Western with more motivation.
“I still thought we had an outside shot at maybe getting home ice advantage, if you look at some of the schedules going forward for the [other] teams,” said Singer, when asked about his team possibly battling complacency. “You know, Windsor is in fourth right now. They got a real tough finish to their schedule – you never know what's gonna happen. I thought we would have had just a bit more fight, a bit more energy tonight.”
At best, the Mustangs can jump to fifth in the West, provided they win both of their last games and Brock University loses .
The Mustangs will have plenty of opportunity to move up the standings next weekend. The team starts with a Friday night home game against Wilfred Laurier University – who sit sixth in the West, one point up on the Mustangs – before finishing their season against the Badgers.