For the first time in ten years, the Mustangs played a game at Budweiser Gardens — and the team did not disappoint.
Western University defeated Guelph University 5–4 on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 2,651 people; in 11 home games at Thompson Arena, the Mustangs have drawn a cumulative attendance of 2,109.
Needless to say, the players appreciated the extra support.
“I wish we could play every game here with those fans,” alternate captain Stephen Desrocher said after the game. “We love the Rec Centre — and it's no complaints — but this is just a whole different world here and especially with the fan support and the band and everything.”
The defenceman paid the fans back for their support on the ice, as well. The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick was one of Western’s five goal scorers.
The Mustangs were fuelled by goals from Matt Watson, Kyle Pettit, Reed Morison, Desrocher and Kyle Langdon.
Watson opened the scoring for the Mustangs after he found space to move down from his spot on the blue line and deke out the Gryphon’s goalie.
Watson’s slick move resulted in just his second goal of the year, but Desrocher contended that his partner is more offensively gifted than his totals would suggest.
“Watty is an offensive guy. He's always looking for a chance to get out there and put one in,” Desrocher said, when asked if he was surprised to see Watson jump up in the play. “He's had a bunch of chances this year that he just hasn't gotten the bounces so I'm happy to see one go in for him.”
After Watson’s first period marker, the goals continued to flow from both sides. The Mustangs managed to survive the onslaught, though, and come away with the victory.
And hidden within the offensive shootout on Thursday night was a remarkable depth in the Mustangs' performance.
Of the five scores, two came from the special teams — with Pettit scoring shorthanded and Morison adding a marker on the powerplay — and none came from players sitting within the top-five of the Mustangs scoring race.
Receiving offence from every line and pairing is important for the Mustangs as they quickly approach the playoffs, according to head coach Clarke Singer.
“That's one thing we want to have. You wanna have a lot of depth,” explained Singer. Although [Franco] Spro[vireo] and [Ethan] Szypula have maybe, you know — one-two on points — we do have a lot of depth right throughout the line-up.”
“So, I think when you get into a playoff-type situation and a short series, you never know how the goals are gonna go in, you never know who is going to be hot."
With the win on Thursday, the Mustangs secured their place in the playoffs.
The two points also pushed them into a tie with Brock Unviersity for sixth in the Ontario University Athletics West division and placed them just one point back of Wilfred Laurier University with a game in hand.