The Mustangs men’s hockey team dropped a 5-2 decision to the Lancers on Saturday afternoon at Thompson Arena. While it wasn’t a victory for Western, there were still some positive aspects from the game.
Windsor University has jumped out to a hot start this season, currently sitting atop the Ontario University Athletics west division with 25 points and a 12-2-1 record.
Saturday’s game against the Lancers was the Mustangs' third straight loss. But, after the final horn, head coach Clarke Singer wasn’t deflated. He pointed out the team’s ability to produce good scoring opportunities and praised their overall effort.
While it was a three goal margin, the Mustangs weren’t outplayed at five-on-five. If it hadn’t been for Lancers goaltender Jonathan Reinhart, the game would have been much closer.
Windsor narrowly outshot Western University — winning that competition 34-33 — and the first three goals they scored came on the powerplay.
In total, the Lancers went three-for-eight with the man advantage. It was a curiously poor result for the Mustangs' penalty killers, who came into play ranked fifth in the OUA, and a surprisingly good result for the Windsor powerplay, which has struggled out of the gate.
Dropping to a three-goal deficit just over halfway through the game was not the start the Mustangs needed to break their losing streak. But Western did battle back with their own special teams before the end of the second.
Both Ethan Szypula and Franco Sproviero added goals late in the middle frame on the man advantage. The deficit was cut to one, but the Mustangs were unable to tie the game in the third.
The Lancers added a shorthanded goal with just under five minutes remaining and then iced the game with a fifth tuck with less than a minute on the clock.
Ultimately, the Mustangs lost the special teams battle on Saturday — and that cost them the game.
After the loss, Szypula noted that the team might have gotten a little carried away with the penalties.
“Yeah, you know, they lead the league in penalty minutes and we knew that coming into the game. They have easily over 100 penalty minutes than we do,” explained Szypula. “That's something that we knew coming into the game, and I felt like we let our emotions run a little high and it got the best of us sometimes.”
“It's just discipline and if we can kind of be a little better, I feel like it will be good for us.”
Windsor currently sits second in the OUA in penalty minutes with 286 and the Mustangs rank 14 with 170. The Lancers are willing to play a chippy, physical game and the Mustangs, clearly frustrated after losing two in a row, fell victim.
To be fair, the team did finish with two goals on six opportunities on the powerplay. It was another strong night for a powerplay now sitting third in the OUA with a 22.4 per cent success rate.
The Mustangs will try to build off of this success — and get back into the win column — next Friday at home against the Guelph Gryphons.