Annual Faceoff at the Forks at Budweiser Gardens

Mustangs Keep Playoff Hopes Alive: Sneak by Gryphons 5-4 on Controversial Game Winning Goal

Western Mustangs Men's hockey team beats Guelph Gryphons in faceoff at the forks

Zach Friedman

Budweiser Gardens was the sight of Mustangs hockey Thursday night, as the men’s team beat the Guelph Gryphons by a tight score of 5-4. This was a part of the newly revamped “Faceoff at the Forks” program, where the Mustangs each year will play one game at the home of the London Knights, and their former arena, Budweiser Gardens. The game was highly anticipated, and the turnout was evident of that. Mustang nation came out firing for this game with an estimated attendance of nearly 3000 people.

            The game started off in a hurry with the first goal coming 1:15 into the game when Western defenseman Matthew Watson received a Franco Sproviero feed made a quick deke to the backhand and beat Guelph net minder Andrew Masters blocker side to put the Mustangs up 1-0. It was only less than a minute later, after a Kolten Olynyk penalty, a defensive miscue by the Gryphons blessed Kyle Pettit with an open shorthanded breakaway. He did not disappoint giving the Mustangs a quick 2-goal lead. However just 1:44 later it was the Gryphons’ turn to mark themselves down on the score sheet as with just one second left on power play Guelph’s Jesse Saban was just able to get the puck over the glove of Mustang’s goalie Luke Peressini. The rest of the period was mediocre hockey no team getting any crazy chances, and after one period the Mustangs found themselves ahead 2-1.

            The second period was a back and forth affair, no team able to crack the other’s twine as this heated one goal game continued. The drought ended at the 7:18 mark when a spectacular cross crease feed from Conner Bramwell landed perfectly on the stick of Matt Timms to tie the game up at 2. The game stayed knotted up until a Jesse Saban holding penalty allowed the Mustangs to go to work on the power play. Just 27 seconds into the power play the Mustangs recaptured the lead. This time it was Reed Morrison who found the back of the twine coming off assists by Kenny Huether and Rylan Bechtel. The Mustangs went into the second intermission holding onto a one-goal lead.

            The third period was where the game started to get a little chippy. The Mustangs fighting for their lives as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive, and the Gryphons trying to put the Mustangs into the ground like they did in a double overtime thriller last year. It was at the 3:50 mark that a wild scramble ensued in front of the Western goal. Bodies flying on top of each other, 10 guys actively searching for the puck, even Peressini is diving trying to fall on the puck. In all the confusion, Guelph superstar Mikkel Aagaard is able to find Ted Nichol to tie the game up at three. However the Mustangs were quick to respond with a designed faceoff play leading to a Stephen Desrocher goal, 4-3 Mustangs. As the game enters the second half of the period the intensity heats up. Another scramble in front of the Western net almost tied the game back up again, but with the goalie down and out, Western defenseman Cordell James made a diving stop to retain the one goal lead. At the 13:48 mark of the third period it appeared that Kyle Langdon deflected a puck into the Guelph net, however, it was immediately called back for a high stick. The referees eventually all discussed together and determined that Langdon’s goal should have in fact counted, Mustang’s up 5-3. The Gryphons would end up netting one more however, ultimately lost the game 5-4 to the Western Mustangs.

            Mustang’s coach Clarke Singer after the game commended his team’s ability to get a quick start in the game, a task they have not met very often this year. He also commended the Mustangs’ work on special teams getting a power play goal and a shorthanded goal. The Mustangs move to 11-14 and play their next game Saturday at Thompson Arena against the Waterloo Warriors.