Last Wednesday, January 23rd the UTM men’s d-league ice hockey team went toe to toe with UTSC at an exciting game, unfortunately ending 5-3 with UTSC on top. There’s no doubt that the UTM Eagles played with heart and for the novices to ice hockey, it would’ve taken a while for their eyes to adjust due to the sheer speed that the players moved at, reflecting the enthusiasm of the night. Even the audience was quite unanimous in that it was a great game.
The first period was quite reflective of the rest of the night, where UTM was being pushed past the center, and UTSC cranked the pressure all the way up in a relentless display of tenacity. Of course, the period started off rather uneventful as the puck went back and forth, and the players acclimated to the rink. The game got real when UTSC got their first goal as a player received an unacceptable breakaway and scored swiftly over UTM’s goalie.
The Eagles decided to pick up the pace and managed to go on the offensive for a while. The first valiant attempt was in the form of a breakaway but the player unfortunately lost balance and crashed and burned into the net. UTM however did get their first goal this period when a player managed to get a terrific slapshot from the defending zone.
In an unfortunate turn of events, when the team lined up for faceoff, the UTSC centreman instantly got control of the puck, took it past the entire UTM team and scored within the first 7 seconds, bringing the score to 2-1. For the rest of the period, UTM kept getting stronger and maintaining possession of the puck for longer intervals. While UTSC kept close and crowded, UTM kept spread out in a circular formation and passed the puck around. The last shot of the period was scored in an overload strategy, where UTSC players were drawn toward the corner to open up shooting lanes. Thus, a UTM player was able to swiftly score when passed the puck and left undefended in the right defensive zone. The period ended 2-2.
The second period was a godsend to UTSC as they dominated the rink. From the get-go, UTM was being pushed way back. UTSC was hammering away and took countless shots at the net but each were too unfocused, and players missed by wide margins. Interestingly, UTM players were too distracted and for the occasional seconds they got on the offense, UTSC was quicker and assembled promptly at defense to form a consistent wall the Eagles just couldn’t get past. Finally, at about 6 and a half minutes in, the UTM goalie was completely undefended and strong-armed by 3 UTSC players who took multiple shots and as the goalie sank to his bottom left, the puck ricochets to his right and a UTSC player got a swift goal.
At about 4 minutes left in the game, another UTSC player scores from the defensive zone in a beautifully clean slapshot, raising the score 4-2. This riled up UTM to increase their resistance and bringing the period close to an equal struggle.
Period three started off with the UTM players hungry for glory. The Eagles arguably dominated the rink, taking many shots. The strategy for UTSC seemed to constitute laying low and playing defensive while the clock runs out. UTM did get painfully close to scoring, getting their puck on the goal line a few times and once even scoring at 4 minutes in but unfortunately didn’t receive the credit as a UTM player was in the crease.
UTM scored with 3 minutes left in the game. After a couple of his shots bounced harmlessly off the goalie, he deftly flicks the puck high into the net while the goalie was crouched down.
The arguably hilarious part of the game was the ending with 28 seconds left, the coach calls a time out and decides to take out the goalie to have 6 whole players up front at faceoff in the UTSC’s defensive zone, for a power play. However, UTSC quickly got control of the puck and their player bolted straight for the net, scoring in an effortless swipe of his stick. The game ended 5-3 with UTSC seizing the day.