What power shortage?
The Western Mustangs men’s hockey team silenced their critics Thursday night at Thompson arena, going 4-for-5 with the man advantage to easily defeat the Windsor Lancers 4-1.
Coming into the game, the Mustangs 17th ranked power play had been anemic, converting on just one of 18 opportunities. After the game, however, the Mustangs had shot up the Ontario University Athletics rankings to fifth, improving their power play percentage from 5.6 to 21.7.
“We made a couple little tweaks to try to get things going,” Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer said. “In order to be successful, throughout the regular season and the playoffs, your special teams have to be outstanding.”
The Mustangs were led by two goals from second-year centre Kevin Baker. Former Medicine Hat Tiger Yashar Farmanara and defenceman Geoff Killing added the Mustangs other markers.
Killing has been a bright spot for the Mustangs on defence this season, scoring three times in the Mustangs’ five games thus far. Killing only managed to score four goals in 28 games last season.
“Geoff has a great deal of skill — not only defensively, but offensively as well,” Singer said of the second-year rear guard. “He’s getting more time on the power play this year and he’s making great use of it.”
Anthony Grieco, the mercurial Mustang goaltender, made 39 saves to win his third game of the season. However, his shutout streak was snapped at 160 minutes when Lancers forward Brett Oliphant beat the rookie goaltender early in the third period. Grieco had stopped over a hundred shots in a row before that.
“I’ve just been trying to work hard and do the things that make me successful in the net,” Grieco said of his stellar play. “We have a pretty hardworking group here and everyday they push you to do well, so it’s good to see it pay off.”
Grieco currently leads all OUA goalies with a 0.80 goals against average and .983 save percentage.
“Grieco has been very important for our team this year. We got off to a slow start and it was his solid play that helped us turn it around,” Mustangs captain Luc Martin said of the freshman goaltender.
Coach Singer said after the game that despite his excellent play, Grieco had not won the starting job outright.
“The regular season is an audition for who starts in the playoffs,” Singer said. “Anthony has played very well when he’s been in and we hope he continues that. But we also want Keyvan to get back in and play well too.”
After starting the season 0-2, the Mustangs have been quick to right the ship, winning their last three.
“I think originally we may have let being the team to beat go to our heads a little bit and forgot that we still had to work as hard as anyone else to win games,” Martin said.
“We had to play better and we had to improve a number of things about our game, and the guys have worked hard,” Singer added. “It’s easy to look back at the success we had last year, but that doesn’t mean anything right now. It doesn’t help us on the ice this year.”