The UTM Eagles men’s hockey team faced off against the UTSC Raccoons earlier this month. In a crushing 5-0 victory over UTSC, the Eagles managed to maintain their perfect 3-0 record this year.
UTSC started the game quick, throwing UTM off their game, but the Eagles held strong and pushed through UTSC’s efforts.
Outshooting UTSC 30-22, Eagles goaltender Andrew Anastas managed to keep his shutout. UTM drew a few consecutive penalties, giving UTSC the main advantage, but UTM also found an advantage to being on a penalty kill, offencescoring two shorthanded goals. The victory has UTM at the top of the standings above the other two campuses, stretching their lead over UTSG Black by two points.
In only three games, the Eagles have tallied an impressive 17 goals along with an incredible defensive record of a mere three goals against. The lengthy bench that the team brings to the ice is full of chemistry that is continuously generating explosive offence and an unbeatable defence, backed with superb goaltending.
In comparison to last year, the Eagles have already begun an impressive season. “The guys have stepped up this year and committed to being better,” said Eagles head coach Mike Keaveney. “Last year we struggled with numbers, and although we had a lot of talent, we would always run out of gas. This year we have 20 guys that can all play and are all contributing.”
Last year was a struggle for UTM. The commitment from players was poor and any team that expects to be good needs a great attendance to build rhythm and strategy. Three games into the season, attendance has yet to be an issue; at the weekly Sunday practices, all players are in attendance.
“Everyone has a part to play, and everyone is doing their job. As a result, we are playing as a unit, and it shows on the scoreboard,” Keaveney said.
The team consists of multiple rookie players and first-year students who have miraculously come together quickly to give the UTM Eagles an intimidating name among the D-League standings.
“I think the team’s really coming together; we have different guys who exert their talents differently,” said rookie defenceman Zach Wilson. “Guys who play aggressive, guys with speed, the playmakers—every guy has a unique role on this team, and when every guy does his job individually, it works into a nice blend of offensive talent and defensive talent.”
Among the first-year rookie players, Wilson is just one. His defensive awareness combined with his offensive skill has been an asset to the team, and combined with the ability the entire team has, this has allowed for commanding leads in all the games thus far.
Although the team itself has been generating a potent offence that causes every opposing team to tire out halfway through the game, to both the head coach and Wilson, the goaltending has been key.
“Our goalies are the best I’ve seen in a long time,” Keaveney said. Both goalies, Joe Fantin and Andrew Anastas, have played spectacularly so far and have only allowed a combined total of three goals to slip past them.
It may be too early to crown the UTM Eagles Development League men’s hockey team as TRY Cup champs, but it is safe to say they are the biggest force this season. The Eagles hope to extend their winning streak to four games this Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. at Varsity Arena, where they face the second-place UTSG Black to take a lead in the standings.