The Varsity Blues women’s hockey team started off the new year unglamorously this past Friday, losing to the York Lions in a nail-biting game by a score of 4-2.
Heading into the game, the Varsity Blues held an OUA-best 11-3-1 record while their opponents struggled with a 3-11-1 record.
Backed up by a very exuberant crowd making plenty of noise, the Blues started off the game at a quick pace. They outskated the York defenders and constantly sent pucks to the net, but to no avail, and they couldn’t gain a lead at the start of the game.
Halfway through the first period, the Lions’ Mariah Krancevich helped out her team on the power play, banging home a rebound and taking a crucial 1-0 lead.
A minute after York scored their first goal, the Blues tied it with a puck off Courtney Brind’Amour-McClure’s skate. The Blues did what they do best: bring a puck to the net and use their physicality to push it into the back.
After the first intermission, the Blues went right on the attack and scored to make it 2-1. A shot from the blue line missed the net but deflected off the backboard and onto Arden Cowley’s stick. Minutes later, York managed to jump right back into the game and keep the score even when Kristen Barbara took the puck and flicked it over the pad of Blues goaltender Nicole Kesteris.
Early in the third period, York managed to take the lead again following a breakaway opportunity in which Krancevich scored again by sliding the puck through Kesteris’ five-hole.
The Blues had many opportunities in the final four minutes of the game, receiving a 5-3 power play for 30 seconds and having the man advantage for a majority of the final minutes, but spectacular goaltending from York’s Megan Lee ensured the score remained 3-2 in York’s favour. The Blues had many wide-open shots, but Lee managed to get on top of the puck, precluding a Blues comeback. With 24 seconds left, the Lions added an empty net goal and finished off the game with a 4-2 win.
“Our inability to capitalize on the power play and on other opportunities was our downfall today,” said Blues assistant coach Britni Smith. The Varsity Blues had seven power-play opportunities, and over two minutes of those were spent with a five-on-three advantage.
However, this is a rare discordant note in the team’s recent history—it’s only the Blues’ fourth regulation loss out of 16 games played this season. “Losses like these are bound to happen,” said Smith. “We just have to find that magic we had in the beginning of the season and ride it out the rest of the way.”
After a three-game road stint, the Blues will return to home action on January 25, when they face the Brock Badgers.