Posted: Mar 12, 2009
The Western Mustangs are all that stand in the way of an improbable run to another Queen's Cup championship for McGill. The Redmen entered the 2008-09 season with low expectations having lost 10 players from last year's championship squad. But the team gelled at the perfect time, winning eight of the last nine regular season games to finish in second place in the Far East Division.
McGill's post-season run has been just as successful, winning six of seven games. It's only loss came in the opening round of the OUA playoffs against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Redmen (24-9-1-1) have never trailed in any of their three best-of-three series, having knocked off a pair of division winners in the Toronto Varsity Blues and No. 5 nationally-ranked UQTR Patriotes.
Western has a similar post-season record of 6-1 following a second-place finish in the Far West Division, with its only loss coming in Game 2 of its opening round series against the Guelph Gryphons. The Mustangs (25-7-3-0) also eliminated two division winners in the York Lions and No. 3 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. Western and McGill have been on a collision course since mid-February, with impact set for March 14 at Thompson Arena in London, Ont. Western last won an OUA men's hockey title in 2004-05.
A number of rookies have made an impact this post-season for both the Redmen and No. 6 nationally-ranked Mustangs. McGill centre Alexandre Picard-Hooper (Boucherville, Que.) is the leader in OUA post-season points with 11, netting five goals and assisting on six others. Teammate Marc-Andre Dorion (St-Hubert, Que.), a first-year defencemen, has also had a strong month with three goals and four assists. Dorion attended rookie camp with the NHL's Dallas Stars in 2008.
McGill also features a neophyte netminder between the pipes, as Kevin Desfosses (Beauport, Que.) has been in the crease for all seven of his team's games. He has a goals against average of 1.72 and a save percentage of .933.
The Mustangs also have their share of greenhorns. Left wing Aaron Snow (Windsor, Ont.) is among the playoff leaders in goals with five to his credit. He has also added four helpers. Snow also has a strong connection with the Dallas Stars having been a third-round selection of the club in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Freshman right wing and Snow's teammate, Yashar Farmanara (West Vancouver, B.C.), is also a forward to contend with this post-season, earning four goals and three assists. Another first-year right wing, Keaton Turkiewicz (Brantford, Ont.), has been dynamite setting up goals for the Mustangs, with seven assists to go along with his one goal.
No matter the outcome on Saturday, both the Redmen and Mustangs will join the host Lakehead Thunderwolves at the 2009 Cavendish University Cup in Thunder Bay, Ont. to determine the Canadian university men's hockey champion. The tournament is from March 26 to 29.
The Queen's Cup will be webcast on www.westernmustangs.ca and available on local television on tape delay Sun., Mar. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Rogers TV Cable 13 in London.
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