On October 2, the Varsity Blues hockey team prepared for the upcoming 2013/14 season by facing the York Lions in the team’s first and only pre-season home game at the Varsity Arena.
Fourth-year forward Michael Markovic scored 12 minutes into the first period, and the Lions couldn’t respond, setting the score for the first period at 1–0.
The Blues held their advantage through the second period, as Jeff Brown, a third-year student, sniped the puck into the net out of the reach of Lions’ goaltender Andrew Perugini, bringing the score to 2–0.
With tensions running high as both teams looked to establish themselves as frontrunners for the upcoming season, the first scramble broke out between Blues’ defenceman Lane Werbowski and York’s wingman Andrew Clouthier, setting both teams on fire.
The Blues closed the second period strong with goals from second-year forward Dylan Heide, who scored off a point shot from rookie defenceman Corey Jackson, and Markovic, who scored his second goal of the game, giving the Blues a 4–0 advantage.
The third period was scoreless until the final three minutes of the game, when Markovic completed his hat trick and gave the team a commanding 5–0 lead as the clock wound down.
Though the game seemed out of reach for the Lions, they continued to push to make a comeback.
U of T goaltender Michael Nishi, who finished the game with 28 saves, was en route to a shutout until Mark Cross of the Lions scored with three minutes left in the game, followed by another goal by York’s Chad Hohmann nine seconds before the game’s end. Still, this comeback wasn’t enough for the Lions, who lost with a final score of 5–2.
After the game, the Varsity Blues’ coach Darren Lowe answered some questions.
“Our goal is to get better every day, and with that, reach the playoffs,” says Lowe.
With a total of seven new players on the roster this year, including Jackson and Nishi, the team looks strong at both the defensive and offensive positions.
“I expect the new players to improve [and] become better every day, and be ready to play,” says Lowe. He added that the team has more specialized departments this year, including specific people hired for coaching and player support.
“With team success comes individual success. We want to make it deeper into the playoffs, and hopefully win,” says Markovic.
The Blues will play two more pre-season road games—one against Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and one against Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania—before returning to the Varsity Arena on October 11 for the home opener against the University of Ottawa.