The Western Mustangs men's hockey team lost to the Windsor Lancers by a final score of 3–2 on Saturday night at Thompson Arena.
Coming into the game, the Lancers offence was on fire, ranking second in Ontario University Athletics in goals, assists and goals per game.
The offensive firepower from Windsor was unexpected, according to fifth-year forward Trevor Warnaar.
“It was kind of surprising,” explained Warnaar. “Over the last couple of years, we've recognized Windsor as more of a hardworking, physical team.”
Although Western managed some good, high-danger chances early in the first period, Windsor drew first blood on Kody Gagnon’s third goal of the year. Good things come in twos for the Lancers, apparently, as Ethan Skinner added another goal just over three minutes later.
The Mustangs kept pushing despite allowing two early goals, though. In fact, both Kolten Olynek and Cordell James’ lines, specifically, continued to produce a fair amount of decent chances.
After the game, Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer was impressed with the team’s play during the first period.
“It was a hard fought game,” said Singer. “I don't know what they announced, but we [recorded] the shots 24–11 in the first period for us. So whatever we were doing, I hope we can do it a whole lot more.”
Ethan Szypula got Western on the board with two minutes remaining in the first period. After James sprung his winger on a breakaway, the Lancers defender wrapped the rookie up, preventing him from finishing the play. The first-year forward was rewarded with a penalty shot. Doing away with the fancy and the fuss, the London native walked in and fired a hard shot on net, cutting the Windsor lead to 2–1.
The Mustangs and Lancers followed up their action-packed opening period with a much more subdued middle frame. Aside from trading penalties, the two teams tied at 13 shots a piece.
However, the Lancers quickly extended the deficit to 3–1 when Ben Assad scored his second goal of the year 28 seconds into the third period.
The Mustangs started to mount a comeback against Windsor with just over two minutes remaining in the contest. At the tail end of a penalty kill, Warnaar fired the puck up the boards to Trent Ouellette, who was just emerging from the penalty box for a slashing minor. Ouellette returned the pass to Warnaar and the fifth-year player drove hard to the net, slipping the puck through the goaltender's legs to trim the deficit to just one goal.
The Mustangs continued to push throughout the final two minutes of the game, but they were unable to tie the game up, dropping their second straight contest.
Western didn’t have much luck in the second half of the back-to-back, either. The team dropped a 5–1 decision to the OUA West Division-leading Ryerson Rams.
The lone Mustangs goal came shorthanded from second-year centre James, assisted by Anthony Stefano.
After a gruelling back-to-back this weekend, the Mustangs are back in action on the road against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Friday at Varsity Arena at 7 p.m.