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MUSTANGS OPINION PIECE Having watched a significant number of Mustangs games this season and having been around

hockey for over 17 years, I would like to open this opinion piece by saying Brad Vigon and Chuck Connelly have done a sterling job with the team this season and the boys are definitely playing a better brand of hockey under their guidance. What has been the special ingredient to have this team vying for a playoff spot when in previous seasons they were generally done and dusted with 4 games to play? 1/ Jon Olthuis (G). This guy is a freak. There is no doubt the Mustangs would be in a similar situation to past seasons without the skills of Jon in net repelling one attack after another. He continues to stand up in the big games and has definitely won the team more than two games based purely on his goaltending ability. If Jon is not staying after this season, the Mustangs should be scouring Nth America over our Summer to find an equivalent for future seasons. 2/ Pat OKane. The Irishman never ceases to amaze with his skating, stickhandling and awareness. For a small guy he is very strong on his feet and rarely gets knocked to the ice, but hands out hits that floor opposition players much bigger then he. Pat averages 2pts per game with a total of 46pts for the season is a huge advantage. A leader by example, lets hope Pat stays around and becomes a permanent Mustang. 3/ Jamie Bourke. The return of Jamie after a season and a bit off has lifted the team and given them some genuine offensive power. Averaging 2.5pts per game is a weapon in any hockey team. He has let himself and the team down on occasions for unnecessary 10min misconducts, but he knows that and is a lot better now than previously (more about that later). There is no doubting Jamies talent in every aspect of the game. He is exciting to watch and there is an expectancy a goal will be scored when he and Pat are on the rink together. 4/ Jack Wolgemuth. I love watching Jack play. Tall, wiry, long reach and makes things happen. This guy repels the opposition at one end and then he is setting up scoring opportunities at the other end. If not the highest scoring defender in the league, he is in the top 3 for sure. A great addition to the team and not one to let go. When you take the above mentioned players and add in Kevin Glanzmans cool head under pressure, Adrian Nash, Andrew Fitzgerald and Matt Stringers tenacity and desperation on every shift, plus a host of other players to round off the team, I believe the Mustangs are about 3 solid players from not only a playoff spot but a genuine chance at challenging for the Goodall Cup. Matt Anderson? The Hughes brothers? Im not sure, but that would be a great start. With all that said I want to offer my opinion on the happenings of Thursday nights derby where the Mustangs had to win. As I opened this article, I believe

Brad and Chuck are on the right track with the team and they are creating a culture whereby the players must be accountable for their actions and pay a price for repeat offending. The decision of the coaches to bench Jamie Bourke for the remainder of the game after getting a 10min misconduct was (in my opinion) the wrong decision. I totally support their desire to have discipline within the group and make an example to the group and fans that unnecessary behavior will not be tolerated. Jamies history has been one of mouthing off at opposition players, referees and anyone that looks at him with one eye closed. He is a competitive beast and plays sport on the edge. If you look at high level sportsmen/woman, that is a driving force in their make up. Most control it, some do not. Jamie has been working on this part of his game with a large degree of success this season. I have seen him skate away from many altercations this season that he would not have in the past. Unfortunately for someone who is on the road to amending a particular negative trait in their game, everytime something happens that involves them, the general comment is, Here he goes again. After Jamie got caught high in the first period, taken down and no penalty called, the old Jamie would have gone straight back for retribution. To his credit, he didnt. Then, he was hit in a dog act by Chris Frank, who drove his elbow into his mouth after he had already knocked him down in the slot. Jamies head was on the ice for the second hit. Jamie skated away while other players took up the issue with Ice players. Then, while the referee was standing outside of his crease (edge of centre face off circle), Jamie casually skated over to show the ref he has blood. Jamie spits blood on the ice. While Frank was deservedly thrown out of the game (again), Jamie was issued with a 10min misconduct for either approaching the referee without a letter or spitting on the ice. No abuse, no aggression toward the ref, nothing. Jamie had been told if he was to get another 10min misconduct he would sit the penalty and not partake in the remainder of the game. Im sorry, but in my opinion, that was not the time to make a point or show the team an example for two reasons. 1/ I totally would have supported the decision if it had been a same ole penalty for mouthing off. Not only it wasnt for mouthing off, it was a frivolous misconduct that a coach needed to support his guy and praise him for his behavior after he had been harshly dealt with and walked away twice. Yes, he took a stupid 2min slash on Frank. 2/ The fans are there to see the best team available out on the ice to win the game and close in on a playoff spot. We dont pay our money to watch a coach become a parent in the middle of the most important game of the season.

In regard to point one, could someone please tell me the rule number and the penalty for a player who approaches a referee without a letter or spitting blood on the ice. Im not saying it doesnt exist, I just genuinely cant find the rule and penalty that goes with it. Did Jamie do the wrong thing by skating out to the ref without Sean Jones (C)? Yes. Did he deserve to sit the remainder of the game? Absolutely not. My comparison would be this. If Jack Wolgemuth had a history like Chris Frank and was told, if you get kicked out of one more game you will have an additional game suspension from the club. Then, he goes into the boards with an opposition player, outmuscles the player and the opposition player catches an edge hits the boards awkwardly and Jack is given a game misconduct, do you enforce your in house penalty on him? NO YOU DONT. You stand by your guy knowing it wasnt what you have the in house penalty for. Before I finish, some of you may read this a future father in law sticking up for his future son in law. You would be mistaken. I enjoy going to watch the Mustangs and really want to see them win. As a fan, I feel the wrong decision was made on the night. That is all.