The Western Mustangs are going to the USports Mens Hockey NationalsTommy Davies
Most people counted them out, and if you were one of them – nobody could blame you. By the end of the regular season the Western Mustangs Mens Hockey Team had limped into the playoffs with an 11-13-4 record. They were the 8th seed, and matched up to play the University of Toronto Blues in the first round of the offseason. The Blues came in as the first overall seed in the OUA West division.
But if there is one thing you need to know about this hockey team, it’s this: they perform under pressure. In the three game playoff series The Western Mustangs took the U of T blues to an elimination game three. After two periods of scoreless play Westerns big man in the middle, Kyle Pettit, opened the scoring in the 3rd. Off that momentum, Western rallied 2 more goals and walked away victorious with a 3-1 win. They were off to the second round.
In the second round they were slated to play the second seed Ryerson Rams. They were in another underdog matchup, but Western embraced it. Ryerson finished the season 20-5-2, and boasted some seriously elite talent. Again Western forced a do-or-die postseason game three, and again they performed when it mattered most. After giving up the lead in the first, they battled back to tie it up in the second. After trailing 2-1 in late in the third, Westerns leading scorer Franco Sproviero tied things up to force overtime. In the extra frame, the always reliable Kolten Olynek scored to take down the OUA Wests second seed. They were off to the third round.
In the OUA semi-finals, the Mustangs were lined up to face the third seed from the west, the Guelph Gryphons. After dropping the first game and winning the second, it was another life-or-death game three. The third in three weeks. The Mustangs headed into the 3rd period with a 2-1 lead despite terrible play through two periods. In the third, the Gryphons stormed back to take the win 4-3 and advance to the OUA finals.
The Mustangs were devastated, but they’re Cinderella story wasn’t over just yet. The success they had found in the playoffs generated a chance at the OUA bronze medal and the opportunity to qualify to the USports Mens National Hockey tournament. To qualify, they would have to defeat the Concordia Stingers in a one game playoff.
It was a high pressure game. So what did they do? They performed.
Concordia took the early lead, but Western rallied back with 4 straight goals. Feisty forward Kenny Huether had an absolutely monstrous game, scoring two goals and two assists. After Cordell James nailed the coffin shut with the empty net goal, Western had won the OUA bronze medal with a final score of 5-2. More importantly, your Mustangs fought their way to earning a ticket to Halifax to compete with the countries best in the USports Mens National Hockey tournament.
So what’s next?
The Mustangs head to Halifax this week as the seventh seed out of eight teams. Western will be playing against the second seeded Saskatchewan Huskies on Thursday, March 12th, at 1:00 PM EST. For results and scheduling, check in to WesternMustangs.ca and tune into CHRW 94.9 Western Radio for LIVE broadcasts of all the Mustangs games in Halifax.
The pressures back, and so are the Mustangs. Western, a national championship may be coming your way very soon.