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The Western Mustangs win the 2018 McCaw Cup. Their last provincial title was in 2015.

The Western Mustangs are the 2018 McCaw Cup champions, winning the OUA's women's hockey championship by beating the Queen's Gaels 3–0 on Saturday in Kingston. This is the second time the Mustangs have won the trophy, the first coming just a few years ago in 2015.

Both teams were quite cagey and nervous to begin the game, as one might expect in a single-game playoff for a championship. It was Western that broke the ice first, though, as defenceman Emma Pearson found the net on a blast from the point midway through the first period. As captain, Pearson was the first to hoist the McCaw Cup after the game.

The Mustangs cemented their lead in the dying moments of the second period, not long after Queen's had a goal disallowed by the referees. Western's Alyssa Chiarello slid the puck around Queen's goaltender, Stephanie Pascal, with just 22 seconds to go in the period, making it 2–0 for the visitors. Chiarello's goal was her league-leading seventh point of the playoffs.

The icing on the cake came toward the end of the third period; Amanda Pereira scored into an empty net to put any attempt at a comeback to bed. 

Plenty of credit for Western's success should go to their rookie netminder, Carmen Lasis. She managed to post a shutout in a championship game, against one of the most potent offensive teams in the Ontario University Athletics.

Lasis turned away all 28 shots the Gaels sent her way, frustrating the likes of Katrina Manoukarakis and Clare McKellar, two of the league's top scorers.

The Mustangs' penalty kill also came up big on Saturday afternoon; the team took five penalties, but managed to kill off all ten minutes shorthanded. At the other end, they managed to capitalize on one of their four power-play opportunities with Pearson's goal.

This entire playoff run has been impressive for Western; neither their semifinal sweep of the Guelph Gryphons nor this win over Queen's was a walk in the park. In fact, the Mustangs probably would've been considered underdogs in both matchups; Guelph has won the past two McCaw Cups, and Queen's was the best team in the OUA for most of this season. 

The Mustangs are now provincial champions, but the job isn't done for them yet this season. In fact, they could even see the Queen's Gaels again when they appear next weekend in the U Sports national championship, which Western will host at Thompson Arena.

Western knew they'd be playing at nationals all year, but they wanted to earn their spot in the tournament through winning. They've now managed to do just that, and they'll have a chance to compete against the best teams from across Canada in their own building.

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Charlie is a third year student in Media, Information and Technoculture, and is a second year sports editor for Volume 111 of the Gazette. Follow him on Twitter @charliejclarke or contact him at charlie@westerngazette.ca

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