The men’s hockey team had back-to-back games last week, first facing Guelph Thursday and then Western Friday. Their fatigue was not obvious going into Friday’s game, but high hopes were apparent, only to be dashed in the third period. In a hard-fought game, Waterloo lost on home turf 2–3.
With little over a day of recovery after an overtime loss against Guelph, the Warriors faced the ominous first-place Western Jan. 31 at CIF. In contrast to the home team, the Mustangs had a week of recovery time from their last game; they skated onto the ice fresh and ready to battle. The Warriors, never a team to back down, faced their opponents head-on.
Western is a historic rival for Waterloo. Last year, even though they went into the playoffs ahead of Waterloo, they were sent packing by the Warriors. The bitterness between the W schools caused sparks and ice to fly on the rink, but surprisingly, no fists.
The first period started slow. The first goal was scored seven minutes into the game by fourth-year forward Josh Woolley, assisted by forwards Anthony Tapper and Jarred Parent. The Warriors were able to stop all of Western’s 12 shots in the first frame, but were unable to answer in kind, with only four shots to open the game.
Coach Brian Bourque said, in regards to the low shots on net, that the team “missed the net a little bit more than normal…They’re a good defensive team. Kind of limited our five-on-five chances, and there weren’t a lot of power plays.” Just as Bourque said, the Warriors didn’t have great chances to show their skills. There were only four power plays, one against Waterloo, but even with the advantages, Waterloo had a hard time keeping the Mustangs out of their zone.
The second period was tense but uneventful. No goals despite many shots on net by both teams — 15–25 by the end of the period. Fourth-year goalie Justin Leclerc was the star of the second and first period. Bourque called Leclerc “composed,” and said, “He doesn’t get rattled.”
The third period brought a total 180 to the rink. Less than three minutes in, right-wing Mustang Kyle De Coste scored, tying the game. Two minutes later, De Coste scored again, pulling the lead for Western.
Bourque said the sudden attack wasn’t due to poor defence or goaltending, rather “[Western] really brought their game up a level … scored a couple and unfortunately we weren’t able to respond. We had opportunities and didn’t get it done.” The Mustangs scored again later in the period by Stefan Salituro at 12:16.
In the last three minutes of play, the Warriors dared to pull their goalie. The audience watched with bated breath; Western shot on the empty net from their zone twice, but missed both times. It was no miracle on ice, but the Warriors played hard and scored with two minutes left to tie it up. Leclerc was brought on again, only to be pulled again in the final minute of play. It was hard fought, but all in vain, the game ended 3–2 for Western.
With this loss and the overtime loss against Guelph, Waterloo sits at ninth place in the Western standings, just ahead of Laurier by three points.