Domination and heartbreak; such was life for the Western Mustangs in their weekend back-to-back. The women’s hockey team shut out the Ryerson Rams 3–0 on Saturday, but dropped a controversial shootout decision 3–2 to the Toronto Varsity Blues on Sunday.
The Mustangs looked dominant to open the second half of their season against the fifth-place Ryerson Rams. As usual, Western’s star goaltender, Carmen Lasis was on fire in the matchup. The second-year netminder stopped all 19 shots from the Rams, showing absolutely no rust from the extended holiday break.
Similarly dominant for Western in the first game was the team’s penalty killing unit. Despite struggling somewhat over the year, the penalty killers were able to shut out the Rams' powerplay unit on five opportunities.
The impressive play from the penalty killers was an important development for the team, according to head coach Candice Moxley.
"You know what, we've been harping on them for PK,” said Moxley. “It was one of our major focuses coming back. We watch a lot of film, we walk through it. So, it's good to see them have success tonight on the ice.”
Outside of the defensive performance, the team was also impressive on the offensive side of the ice. The Mustangs netted three goals from Emma Suitor, April Clark and Shailyn Waites.
Clark, who currently leads the team in goals with 13, now leads the OUA in goal scoring and is tied for second with Moncton’s Katryne Villeneuve in U Sports.
While Clark has been a force on the ice all year, Moxley joked that she feels that she deserves some of the credit for her hot start as well.
“I'm going to take a little bit of credit because I tape her sticks before the game,” joked Moxley. “But, no, no, she's been great for us and she has a knack for getting the puck to the net, and they keep going in. It’s good to see her finish and it’s good to see some other girls finish.”
Clark potted another goal on Sunday afternoon, but the team as a whole did not look as strong.
After the game, the players admitted that they did not get off to a fast enough start against the eight-place Toronto Varsity Blues. Toronto netted a powerplay goal late in the first and added a second marker 16 seconds into the second period.
Interestingly, the penalty killing unit that was so strong in Saturday’s match was not quite as dominant on Sunday. The killers allowed one goal on four Blues powerplays.
It should be noted, however, that Toronto’s powerplay has been red-hot this season, ranking second in the OUA with a powerplay success rate of 20.4 per cent. Nevertheless, the effort was not good enough for Moxley.
“It's been really rough for us,” Moxley said of the penalty kill. “We don't have players willing to block shots and… we have to dig deep and soul search here because we need to start playing some better hockey down the road.”
Despite struggling to open the game, the Mustangs showed some great grit and determination, battling back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime. After the score remained tied after five extra minutes, the game was sent to a shootout.
Rachel Armstrong and Louie Bieman traded successful shootout attempts for the Mustangs and Varsity Blues to open the shootout. Sydnee Baker shot second for Western and appeared to sneak a shot through the goaltender. However, the referee saw the play differently, arguing that once the shot hit the post the play was dead. Baker was diplomatic in her response to the call after the game.
“I think he needs to look over his rulebook because he made a bad call there,” said Baker. “From my understanding in growing up watching hockey and playing the game, if it only touches my stick once and it goes in the net… it's a goal. So he made a bad call.”
As luck would have it, the Varsity Blues scored on their next attempt and Clark was unable to beat Toronto’s netminder on the third shot to extend the game.
The Mustangs will be back on the ice on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 against the Laurentian Voyaguers at Thompson Arena.