MUSTANGS DRAW FIRST BLOOD IN MEN'S HOCKEY PLAYOFF SERIES VERSUS LIONS

TORONTO, Ont. - The Western Mustangs have a chance to advance to the OUA West Final on home ice after winning 4-2 over the York Lions in Game 1 of the best-of-three OUA West semi-final at the Canlan Ice Gardens.

The Mustangs scored three power play goals, going 3-of-4 with the man advantage, and were brilliant on the penalty kill, blanking the Lions on six extra-man opportunities, as special teams were the deciding factor in the game.

The Fab Freshman line of Aaron Snow, Keaton Turkiewicz and Kevin Baker combined for seven points in the win, while Brad Topping made 33 saves in the Western net.

They were a major factor, making their impact early in the game.

Western took a penalty under two minutes into the game for too many men and killed it, gaining momentum and drawing a power play of their own.

Baker (Georgetown, Ont.) nearly opened the scoring as he hit the post on a two-on-one set up by Sal Peralta (Leamington, Ont.). But the line kept the pressure on, as Baker eventually scored on the power play with Cassidy Preston (North Bay, Ont.) in the box for high sticking.

Baker put home a rebound after a Turkiewicz (Brantford, Ont.) shot to take the 1-0 lead.

Seconds after the puck was dropped on the ensuing face-off, York took another penalty as Jesse Grespan (Toronto, Ont.) was assessed a minor penalty for tripping.

Patrick Ouellet (Baie Comeau, Que.) scored on that man advantage on a puck that sat in the slot to give Western the 2-0 cushion.

York starting goalie Carlo Di Rienzo (Woodbridge, Ont.) allowed two goals on the first three Western shots.

Snow (Windsor, Ont.) and Turkiewicz both assisted the Mustangs' first two goals.

On a defensive miscue, the Lions pulled within one as Jake Van Allen (Stouffville, Ont.) scored from a bad angle on a backhander, putting the puck into the top corner off a nice feed from Rob Labute (Tecumseh, Ont.).

Just over five minutes into the second period, Western made it 3-1. Snow took a pass in the slot from Tuckiewicz, firing it on his forehand low on the glove side of Di Rienzo who tried to stack his pads.

Brad Topping (Strathroy, Ont.) was solid after the goal, being a top penalty killer on a York power play with Yashar Farmanara (West Vancouver, B.C.) in the box.

Rookie defenceman Matt Thomson (Kitchener, Ont.) scored his first goal of the season in breath-taking fashion, firing it top shelf to make it 3-2 Western in close with 9:40 left in the second period.

Western led 3-2 after two periods.

The Lions started the third period with a power play but failed to convert again on the power play, going 0-of-4.

But Ouellet took a penalty seconds after the kill and York had some good opportunities but Topping bailed out his squad. York had out-shot Western 5-0 to start the final frame.

The game was a physical affair. After he scored his goal, Ouellet was hurt in the first period and didn't play a lot in the second. Meanwhile, Peralta was decked coming through the middle in the second.

Jeff Martens (Maple Ridge, B.C.) scored Western's third power play goal of the game to make it 4-2 with a great effort to skate around several flat-footed Lions, snapping the puck under the blocker of Di Rienzo.

Off the ensuing face-off, Sean Courtney (Peterborough, Ont.) hit the iron on a shot that would have given Western a three-goal cushion.

With just over nine minutes remaining, Turkiewicz hit the crossbar as the Mustangs continued to pour on the pressure.

Seconds later Scott Restoule (Sudbury, Ont.) set up York teammate Adam Ross (Edmonton, Alta.) but Topping made a great save to preserve the two-goal Western lead.

York got a sixth man advantage late in the game with Ryan Martinelli assessed a minor penalty for interference.

Ouellet, who blocked three shots, and Topping, who made four saves, kept the Lions at bay and were major factors in preventing a York goal on the late-game power play.

The winner of the OUA West semi-final will face the winner of the Lakehead-Laurier OUA West semi-final in the OUA West final.

The winner of the OUA West final will advance to the one-game provincial championships game for the Queen's Cup. The Mustangs last won the Queen's Cup OUA title in 2004-2005.

Game 2 of the best-of-three OUA West semi-final series goes Saturday Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Thompson Arena.

To order tickets, call 519 661.4077 or visit the Alumni Hall Box Office on Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are also available one hour before game time at Thompson Arena.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students, seniors and youth.

Source: Mustangs Athletics

Photo Credit: Craig Glover
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