Guelph, Ont. (via Western Mustangs) – The Western Mustangs' women's ice hockey team is perfect on the season so far, winning their match-up against the Guelph Gryphons 5-3 at the Sleeman Centre Thursday evening.
After defeating the Brock Badgers in a shootout last weekend, the Mustangs were looking to advance their win streak in Guelph and capitalize upon a team that had just lost their home opener by a score of 5-1.
The Mustangs were awarded a power play right off the bat after forward Stephanie Gava was given a penalty for body checking barely one minute into the period. Western was unable to convert on the player-advantage, and the first ten minutes of the period continued to be a slow affair as both teams took some time to feel each other out.
Western went on to take two penalties in the latter half of the frame, which required goaltender Carmen Lasis to be at the top of her game. The Gryphons, however, were able to open the scoring for the game as Gabriele Underwood cleaned up a loose puck into the net.
This first goal shifted the momentum of the game, as both teams picked up their pace. The Mustangs picked up another penalty, one that would be served by Sam Wood as they were shorthanded due to too many players on the ice. The Mustangs were electric on the penalty kill, however, as they prevented Guelph from entering the offensive zone cleanly several times, and as well were able to garner several offensive opportunities, including one shorthanded breakaway by co-captain April Clark.
With just under three minutes to go in the first frame, the Purple and White finally scored their first goal of the game, as Kira Memet tipped in Olivia Kariunas' slapshot past Guelph goaltender Aurore Beaulieu. Clark also received an assist on the goal, and the 'Stangs were energized going into the first intermission.
In the second period, both teams started off by trading penalties, though no one was able to convert. Finally, during Guelph's second penalty of the period, Rachel Armstrong's shot from the boards bounced off of Brooke DiCicco, off of the ice, and past the left toe of Beaulieu into the net. This propelled Western's offensive play, as barely a minute later, Kyle Bertrand scored her first goal of her OUA career – a one timer that went top shelf from the point with a crowd in front of the net as the screen. Her first goal puck was quickly scooped up by a teammate to commemorate the goal.
The Gryphons, however, knew they needed to respond, especially in front of a deflating home crowd. Less than ten seconds after the puck was dropped again after Bertrand's goal, Mayla Mayer stuffed it home past Lasis to bring the score to 3-2 for Western, tightening the Mustangs' lead.
The Mustangs entered the second intermission with one minute left on a power play, and it only took 22 seconds in the third period for DiCicco to get her second goal of the game and restore Western's two-goal lead.
The intensity of the game reached its peak midway through the final frame, as both teams were battling it out, one to close out the game, and one to tie it up in front of a home crowd. The Gryphons' intensity paid off as Kristen Jay scored the team's third goal, pressuring the Mustangs in their own zone. However, Mustangs forward Sydnee Baker was able to respond, as she forced a turnover high in the offensive zone and took the matter into her own hands, skating it right up and into the net with just over two minutes to go. That proved to be the dagger that would finish the Gryphons' night, as the game ended on a 5-3 win for the Mustangs, extending their win streak to three.
This matchup was the first of a home-and-home for the two teams, as they will meet again on Saturday, October 26 at 2:30PM in London at Thompson Arena.