By Ankur Kumar
(TORONTO, ON) – The Windsor Lancers have breathing room, now that they are four points ahead of the tailing Western Mustangs. One goal made a world of difference for both sides, but at the end it was the Lancers who were favoured most in the second meeting of the season between the two teams.
The geographical proximity of London and Windsor has seen a rivalry of traditional proportions develop between the Mustangs and the Lancers. Further fuelling the fire is the emergence of the Lancers in post-season action against the nationally reputable Mustangs.
The Mustangs knocked the Lancers out of the OUA West semi-finals in 2010. The teams have met each other in the division finals the previous two post-seasons. It is not a far stretch that last week’s game foreshadowed another postseason classic for collegiate puck heads if these two teams encounter each other for the third straight post-season.
“Our guys are better than that. When we’re focused we can do great things,” explained head coach Kevin Hamlin. “Teams rely on their veterans and leaders. A solid core group back from last year that knows what it takes to win.”
When the leading CIS point producers for offense and defence are on the roster, it definitely increases the enjoyment of the season that has been so far. Include the progression of last season’s Queen’s Cup MVP, and the core of Spencer Pommells, Kenny Bradford, and Parker Van Buskirk, are the trio to lead the Lancers.
The optimism and excitement returned to the Lancer spirit after the big win.
“ I haven’t enjoyed a season like this in years. It has been a coachable team and a pleasure to be around,” said Hamlin.
Parker Van Buskirk earned his fifth career CIS shutout and his first since the 3-0 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Jan. 25th 2014; almost a year to the date of his recent achievement. Van Buskirk also reached his 60th career win as a CIS goaltender. The goaltender would follow up with another shutout vs York just two days later.
With an average of 2.84 goals against and a save percentage of .904, PVB has the most wins in the OUA and is second overall in the entire Canadian Interuniversity Sport to Dave Shantz of the UNB Varsity Reds.
The Mustangs are in a rare panic after getting shutout two consecutive games by scores of 1-0. To see the Mustangs blanked for 120 regulation minutes has not happened in well over a decade. Second place was never a bad setting for the Purple Ponies, but now they have taken a step backwards during the critical point of the season.
“If any teams are looking to be handed two points, you won’t find that,” Hamlin continued. “Everyone is trying to play their best this time of year and solidify a playoff spot.”
The Mustangs have the Waterloo Warriors encroaching their position, who had ended a six game losing skid on November 14th with a 7-1 win over Concordia. A gauntlet ensued as the Warriors have earned 23 points out of a possible 24 during their 11-0-1 run since then.
From here onwards, it is home sweet home for the Windsor Lancers. The Blue Collar Boys will host the Ryerson and Brock this week in the final two games of the regular season.