The Toronto Varsity Blues entered tonight’s game trying to preserve their four-game win streak. They had a tall task ahead of them as the visiting team was none other than the reigning OUA Champions, the Guelph Gryphons.
The first period was dominated by the Gryphons as the Blues took careless penalties and registered just three shots on net. The second Guelph goal came when Toronto was hemmed in their own zone and the constant pressure from the Gryphons was wearing them down. An exhausted Toronto group through the puck across the ice for an icing call and Guelph capitalized on the tired group a few seconds later. After twenty minutes, it was 2-0 Gryphons and with the lack of intensity from the Blues, it seemed like their 4-0 record was coming to the end.
In the second period, the Blues showed signs of life, including two breakaway chances that were turned aside by Guelph’s goaltender, Aurore Beaulieu. The Gryphons went into autopilot as they tried to play the clock rather than the Blues. Thanks to Beaulieu, the team preserved their two-goal lead heading into the third period.
With the way the Blues were starting to buzz, it was only a matter of time before they solved Beaulieu. Halfway through the period, Natasha Athanasakos and Adrianna Noble scored 20 seconds apart to tie the game. The two teams ended up going into overtime with both goalies standing tall as their teams traded chances.
After just three shots in the first period, the Blues finished the game with 28 shots to Guelph’s 24. They completely turned the game around and the mental toughness and resilience shown by this team are what makes them such a difficult opponent to play against. The game went to the shootout and captain Stephanie Ayres deked past Beaulieu to tuck in the lone goal in the shootout.
The Varsity Blues remain undefeated in a fantastic comeback win over the reigning champions, the Guelph Gryphons. Here is what each team can improve on for their next game:
Varsity Blues – Stay disciplined
The Blues did not start the game well and the early penalty to captain Stephanie Ayres didn’t help swing the momentum in their favour. They are a physical team, but they need to make sure they don’t go over-the-top or they will find themselves chasing more than they’re leading. This team possesses a dynamic offence and they can’t use it to the fullest advantage if they’re always down a player.
Guelph Gryphons – Keep playing strong defence
The Gryphons played a very strong defensive game against the Blues and if it weren’t for the 20-second blip in the third period, they would have had a dominant game. They did a great job of keeping the Blues on the outside and many shots thrown at Beaulieu were not high-danger opportunities.
They also did a great job cleaning out the face-off dot which allows them to take back possession in the defensive zone and go on the attack in the offensive zone. This team is very strong defensively and if they can play solidly for 60 minutes, they will be a very difficult team to score against.
The Varsity Blues have a week to rest and recover before they welcome Ontario Tech to town next Friday. The Gryphons don’t play until next Saturday when the Laurentian Voyageurs visit their arena.