The U of T Varsity Blues men’s hockey team defeated the University of Waterloo Warriors, 8-2. The Varsity Blues are now 5-3-0 in the season.
Blues goaltender Brett Willows stopped 43 of 45 shots, while Warriors goaltender Justin Leclerc gave up six goals and was pulled out in the second period.
Willows was one of the game’s three stars along with Blues forwards Jeff Brown and Michael Markovic. Brown and Markovic finished the game with hat tricks. Markovic had two goals with one assist.
The Blues’ Lane Werbowski scored the opening goal of the game at the 10-minute mark. Tyler Liukkonen provided an assist with a centering pass to Werbowski in front of the goal, and Leclerc had no chance to make a save.
The Warriors tried to respond. Forward Chris Chappell gave the Warriors a scoring opportunity with a cross-ice pass to Justin Larson. Larson shot the puck but was stopped by Willows. Willows’ hope for a shutout slipped away after the Warriors were able to tie the game two minutes after the Blues’ goal. Luke Lynes provided the tying goal for the Warriors, assisted by forward Brett Mackie.
Both teams continued to pepper the goaltenders with shots. Willows stood strong and stopped all the Warriors’ shots. The Blues took the lead with less than four minutes in the first period, with Andrew Doyle scoring a goal with an assist from Markovic. Brown padded the Blues’ lead with a goal late in the first period.
The Blues were relentless in trying to score. With a 2-on-1 opportunity in the second period, Brown scored his second goal of the game with an assist from Dean Klomp. The Waterloo defender was unable to stop Klomp’s pass and Leclerc was unable to get in position, allowing Brown to score easily in front of an open net. Two minutes later, Brown completed his hat trick with a point shot off a pass from Blake Boddy.
The Blues’ speed allowed them to get further ahead. Blues forward Tyler von Engelbrechten stole the puck from the Warriors and passed it to a streaking Markovic on a breakaway, who buried the puck in the Warriors’ net. After six goals, Leclerc was pulled. Mike Morrison replaced him and tried to stop the Blues’ offence.
In the last three minute of the second period, the Warriors were awarded a power play when the game’s first penalty was called against Toronto. The Blues’ Paul van de Velde was called for hooking. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Blues’ power play unit proved strong and killed the penalty to end the second period with a score of 6-1.
The Warriors tried to salvage the game in the remaining 20 minutes but came up short, though Kane Allicock broke through Willows’ defense and scored. On the next shift, the Warriors were awarded a power play, but to their dismay, U of T’s Markovic sped past the Warriors’ defence trying to score a shorthanded goal on a breakaway. The Warriors’ defender broke the play but was caught holding Markovic, letting him be awarded with a penalty shot. Markovic made no mistake and scored the team’s seventh goal. The Blues would add to their massive lead with a goal from Connor Cleverley to make the final score 8-2.
“I thought the guys did a really good job in responding to a tough loss,” said Willows. “We really limited their chances and cashed in on ours. It’s easy when the score gets out of hand like that to lose your focus as a player, but I felt as though we played a complete 60 minutes.”
The Blues’ victory left them two points shy of first place in the OUA West Division. The Blues will face the Queen’s University Gaels on November 8 in hopes of giving the Gaels their first loss of the season.