This past Wednesday, November 14th the U of T tri-campus hockey development league gathered at Varsity Arena for another week of inter-campus play. The UTM Eagles lost a hard-fought and messy game against the UTSC campus 1-0.
Before either team could settle into any kind of rhythm, UTSC opened the score with a quick strike. The goal came from a speedy turnover and counter attack by UTSC, finished by a self-collected rebound that the UTSC player calmly tucked into net after just 46 seconds of play. That proved to be the game’s winning goal, but it was far from the last solid chance either team would get.
It was entirely Scarborough’s game in the first period as their shifty centre men sifted their way through an uncharacteristic sloppy Eagles defense. The Eagles were overpowered and spent most of their time trying to clear the zone against an aggressive UTSC forecheck. Scarborough did look vulnerable when they were caught deep in the Eagles zone however. Occasionally the Eagles could squirt past the pinching Scarborough defense or complete a sweet stretch pass to a winger for a few breakaway chances. The checking ramped up a bit near the end of the first and it turned into a chippy, physical game.
Moving into the second period, the Eagles proved resilient and started to find their way into dangerous offensive zones. A quiet first few minutes led to some post-whistle clashes between the teams and earned them both offsetting penalties for some bad behaviour. The scuffle did energize the lacklustre teams and the play started to open. The boys brought their wheels and picked up the pace of the game. A UTM player found an opening in the high slot but couldn’t get enough mustard on his snapshot to handcuff the Scarborough goalie. His teammate followed up on the rebound but still couldn’t score on UTSC. UTM threw everything they had at them for about five minutes and came up empty handed despite the worthy effort. Caught sleeping after their sustained attack, UTM’s goalie found himself facing 3 attackers all by himself and managed to stop the breakaway and keep the score at a manageable 1-0 deficit. At the end of the second period, UTSC earned a two-minute minor and a five-minute major penalty giving UTM a 5 on 3 advantage into the third period.
The UTM Eagles third period opened with a failed power play and their inability to capitalize on golden opportunities was their downfall. Credit to the UTSC goalie who stood on his head and kept the game tied with his pads right on the goal line, saving multiple sneaky wraparounds from the Eagles.
With eight minutes left in the game, the last moments of competitive fast paced hockey occurred. Coming off both team’s poor powerplays, they initiated a little bit of rope-a-dope hockey. Both teams sent stretch passes and puck carrying defenders into each other’s zones. Each pass was blue line to blue line and the speed caused some tense and electrifying moments. Four consecutive breakaways between the two teams was the most exciting moment of the game as they looked like flashes of blue, white and red racing each other to the net.
Unfortunately, after this the game was severely hindered by tons of late penalties and it ended up working to Scarborough’s advantage as UTM lost all rhythm and couldn’t find another good chance on net.