MUSTANGS OVERCOME ODDS, REACH CIS MEN'S HOCKEY FINAL

THUNDER BAY, Ont. - The third-seeded Western Ontario Mustangs scored five unanswered goals in the third period to stun No. 2 Saint Mary's 7-2 in the final Pool-B duel of the 2009 CIS men's hockey championship, Saturday afternoon, and advance to the University Cup title match.

The OUA champion Mustangs (1-1) overcame all odds to reach the national final for the first time since 2002 and the second time in team history as they needed to beat the Huskies by at least three goals following a 4-3 loss to McGill on Friday.

Western, which claimed its lone University Cup title seven years ago with a triple-overtime victory over UQTR, will face UNB for CIS gold Sunday at 2 p.m. (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada).

Cavendish University Cup website: www.cisport.ca/e/championships/m_hockey/2009

"We obviously knew the huge mountain we had to climb today," said Clarke Singer, in his 10th season as head coach of the Mustangs. "We talked about wanting to have the lead with 10 minutes left in the third, and then worrying about the goal differential."

"During the second intermission, every guy in the room knew that we needed to win by three," said Western player of the game Kevin Baker, a rookie centre from Georgetown, Ont. "We talked about how we were going to leave everything out there on the ice, and I think we did that. We raised our game to another level, one which I don't think we had played at all year."

The AUS champion Huskies, skating at the CIS tournament for the first time since 2002 and only the second since 1977, had defeated McGill 4-1 in the championship opener on Thursday.

"I'm lost for words right now," said former CIS coach of the year Trevor Stienburg. "Right from the start, I didn't think we had any jump and I certainly will take the blame for that. The whole game didn't have a flow for us for some reason and I don't have the answers for that."

"To tell you the truth, in the third I was kind of in disbelief sitting on the bench," said fourth-year left-winger Marc Rancourt of Gloucester, Ont., the CIS player of the year. "It's probably the worst thing you can do, it's more of a passive reaction than an active one. When that stuff is going on (in your mind) you should engage yourself even more, go out there and do something about it."

Western was trailing 2-1 when Baker beat goaltender Brandon Verge of Fall River, N.S., with a wrist shot on the glove side at 13:28 of the middle period to tie the contest at 2-2 going into the final frame.

Fifth-year left-winger Jeffery Martens of Maple Ridge, B.C., sent the Mustangs ahead 95 seconds into the third when he buried a rebound past Verge, and freshman Joe McCann of Essex, Ont., doubled Western's lead at 3:15 on a one-timer from the slot.

Defenceman Chris Petrow of Haliburton, Ont., scored from the point during a two-man advantage at 7:58 to make it 5-2, and Baker added his second of the afternoon on a slapshot from the left circle at 13:29.

In a desperation move, Stienburg pulled Verge with 3:34 remaining in the contest as the Huskies were about to go on a power play but the strategy quickly backfired as Martens sealed the victory with an empty-netter with 86 seconds left on the clock.

Also connecting for Western was defenceman Ryan Martinelli of London, Ont., who opened the scoring only 2:07 into the match.

Baker (2-0), Martens (2-0), McCann (1-1) and Petrow (1-1) all finished with two points, as well as rearguard Adam Nemeth (0-2) of Amherstburg, Ont., and freshmen Jason Furlong (0-2) of London and Aaron Snow (0-2) of Windsor, Ont.

Sophomore Justin Munden of Halifax was Saint Mary's lone marker beating netminder Brad Topping of Strathroy, Ont., at 8:46 of the opening frame and 4:41 into the second.

The Mustangs were outshot 36-31 but shut down the country's most potent power play, a unit which had operated at a 28 per cent efficiency during the regular season. Western snuffed out all eight SMU opportunities and replied on one of eight PP occasions.

"We got the bounces and now we get to play for a national championship," Baker said.

GAME NOTES: The game marked the first-ever meeting between UWO and SMU at the University Cup tourney… In their only two previous appearances in the national final, the Mustangs lost 5-3 to York in 1988 and edged UQTR 4-3 in triple OT in 2002 on a goal by Stacey Bristone at 13:17 of the third extra period… The 2002 final, which ended after 43:17 of extra time, is still the longest game in University Cup history… The 2002 championship game also marked the last appearance by an Ontario-based team in the CIS final… Western is the second school to advance to the University Cup title match after losing a round-robin duel in the 18 years of the six-team tournament format (1977-78 to 1982-83, 1997-98 to present)… Alberta won the Cup a year ago despite a 2-1 OT loss to Moncton in its tourney opener.

SCORING SUMMARY

No. 3 Western Ontario 7, No. 2 Saint Mary's 2

FIRST PERIOD
SCORING:

1. UWO Ryan Martinelli (1) (Aaron Snow, Keaton Turkiewicz) 2:07
2. SMU Justin Munden (1) (Cam Fergus, Colin Power) 8:46
PENALTIES:
Kyle Lamb (UWO) boarding, 2:34;
Ryan Rorabeck (SMU) interference, 5:01;
Andrew Hotham (SMU) roughing, 8:46;
Joe McCann (UWO) roughing double minor, 8:46;
Colin Power (SMU) holding, 11:01;
Yashar Farmanara (UWO) roughing, 13:08;
Joe McCann (UWO) roughing, 14:59;
Cam Fergus (SMU) double minor roughing, 14:59;
Andrew Hotham (SMU) closing hand on puck, 18:12;
Bench (UWO), failure to hold bench, 20:00.

SECOND PERIOD
SCORING:

3. SMU Justin Munden (2) (Cam Fergus, David MacDonald) 4:41
4. UWO Kevin Baker (1) (Aaron Snow, Keaton Turkiewicz) 13:28
PENALTIES:
Andrew Hotham (SMU) high-sticking, 2:06;
Ryan Martinelli (UWO) hooking, 5:58;
Andrew Hotham (SMU) hooking, 6:46.

THIRD PERIOD
SCORING:

5. UWO Jeffery Martens (1) (Jason Furlong, Joe McCann) 1:35
6. UWO Joe McCann (2) (Jason Furlong, Adam Nemeth) 3:15
7. UWO Chris Petrow (2) (Patrick Ouellet, Sal Peralta) 7:48 2-PP
8. UWO Kevin Baker (2) (Adam Nemeth, Brad Topping) 13:29
9. UWO Jeffery Martens (2) (Chris Petrow) 18:34 EN
PENALTIES:
Ryan Martinelli (UWO) hooking, 3:55;
Tyler Noye (SMU) interference, 7:07;
Scott Brophy (UWO) cross-checking, 7:36;
Keaton Turkiewicz (UWO) high-sticking, 10:13;
Chris Petrow (UWO) cross-checking, 16:26.

GOALS (by period)
UWO: 1-1-5:7
SMU: 1-1-0:2

SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
UWO: 7-10-14:31
SMU: 7-15-14:36

POWER PLAY:
UWO: 1-8
SMU: 0-8

GOALTENDERS
UWO – Brad Topping (W, 1-1, 36 shots, 34 saves, 2 GA, 60:00)
SMU – Brandon Verge (L, 1-1, 30 shots, 24 saves, 6 GA, 57:52)
SMU – Empty net (1 shot, 1 GA, 2:08)

PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
UWO: Kevin Baker
SMU: Justin Munden

REFEREE: Sean Reid

LINESMEN: Trevor Gordon, Kevin Kuluski

ATTENDANCE: 2,447

SCHEDULE & RESULTS (All times Eastern)

Pool A

1. Alberta
4. UNB
6. Lakehead

Pool B
2. Saint Mary's
3. Western Ontario
5. McGill

Thursday, March 26
Pool B #1: Saint Mary's 4, McGill 1
Pool A #1: UNB 6, Alberta 3

Friday, March 27
Pool B #2: McGill 4, Western 3
Pool A #2: Alberta 2, Lakehead 1

Saturday, March 28
Pool B #3: Western 7, Saint Mary's 2
19:00 Pool A #3: No. 6 Lakehead vs. No. 4 UNB (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)

Sunday, March 29
14:00 Final: Western vs. TDB (Rogers Sportsnet / SSN Canada webcast)

Source: CIS Communications

Photo Credit: Craig Glover
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