The Mustangs came out flying in the first period, outshooting the Gryphons 22-3. Guelph quickly turned the tables in the second period, firing 20 shots at Mustangs goalie Brad Topping while surrendering only nine.
“Western came out strong,” said Gryphons head coach Jeff Reid. “Thank goodness our goalie [Ken Ritson] was on top of his game. We had front row seats to see the purple shirts dance around the ice.”
“I thought the first was one of our best periods of the year,” said Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer. “We took positives out of that, but Ritson always plays well against us.”
Kyle Piwowarczyk opened the scoring just 2:59 into the first period on a wrist shot that beat Ritson on the blocker side. The Mustangs added to their lead at 12:06 on the power play when Mike Rice deflected home a Sal Peralta shot.
The score was 2-0 after the Mustangs’ furious first frame, but the second period was a different story.
“Once we got the bright lights and big dressing room [of the JLC] out of our system, we could concentrate on the game,” Reid said.
The Mustangs ran into penalty trouble early in the period, but killed a long two-man disadvantage. Guelph finally found the back of the net when David Volpe deflected a weak point shot past Topping.
Western managed to escape the second period with a 2-1 lead that Topping stood on his head to preserve.
“Brad has played very well and deserved to win,” Singer said. “He was very positionally sound tonight. His first Ontario University Athletics win is well deserved.”
After watching the Gryphons for most of the second period, the Mustangs’ offence finally took over in the third. Kevin Richardson beat Ritson on a breakaway just 53 seconds into the period after receiving a perfect pass from Peralta. Peralta then added another goal on the power play at 6:33. The man advantage was working all game for the Mustangs.
“We just tried to move the puck,” Peralta said. “We did basic things like moving to the net and getting pucks to the net.
“We were a little concerned when we let down in the second after coming out flying in the first. It always feels great to win, but you never know. We have to fight all the way to the buzzer. I credit my linemates tonight. [Jesse] Boucher, Richardson and I have a lot of chemistry.”
Rice, with his second goal of the game, and Steve Benedetti rounded out the scoring for the Mustangs, with Stephen Morris responding for the Gryphons.
“The biggest thing is mentally we stopped thinking,” Reid said of the third period. “We just started playing a little flat. This is one of the hardest working Western teams in a while. When you add the skill and work ethic, it’s a very dangerous combination.”
That combination couldn’t push the Mustangs over the York Lions last week when they battled to a 3-3 draw in Toronto.
“We were very inconsistent and it was a tale of two games,” Singer said. “We came out flat going down 3-1, but we managed to come back.”
Western beat Laurier 3-2 on Saturday. For full coverage, check out tomorrow’s Gazette.