Two overtime goals, one week apart and two losses in the last three games. That’s what is going on for the Toronto Varsity Blues right now following their loss to the Western Mustangs in Wednesday’s overtime at Toronto’s Varsity Arena.
The scoring was opened midway through the first period, with Ross Krieger kicking off the day for a Toronto offence who has been potent this season. With the goal, it lengthened Kreiger’s point streak to six games, one of the best that the league has to offer. Despite an abundance of chances late in the opening frame, nothing came to be for Western’s offence.
Toronto again got themselves on the board as they extended their lead early in the second period. Once they were up two nothing, it looked as though it would be a walk in the park for the Varsity Blues. Not only did it look that way, but the team started to play like that as well, as they nonchalantly passed the puck around and slowly but surely lost track of their defensive organization.
With 20 minutes left in the period and the home side leading by two, the Mustangs could have curled up into their proverbial ball and waited for the next game. However, something must have clicked between periods. Whether it was words from the seven-time coach of the year Clarke Singer, or a collective effort from the players, each of them came out with ferocity in the final period.
Kenny Huether, the former Oshawa General scored the first of the game for the visitors just over halfway through the period. His tally lit a spark under the Mustangs and provoked some dirty play for the Varsity Blues who, in their minds, had already put the game to bed.
Toronto’s aggravation led two a multitude of penalties in the final minutes, including one which surrendered the tying goal with eight seconds remaining in regulation. The tying goal, which came with the powerplay and pulled goaltender was assisted by non-other than previous scorer Kenny Huether, who ended the evening with a pair of points.
Two goals in less than ten minutes forced overtime at Varsity Arena, and the Mustangs made no mistake in the extra frame. Franco Sporviero finished off the London school’s comeback just 23 seconds into overtime, giving them the win in an extremely tight playoff race at the bottom half of the standings.
The win gives Western a little bit of breathing room ion their quest for the postseason, as they now find themselves in the sixth seed, with a three-point buffer between them and the playoff bar.
Toronto’s loss on the other hand, while not admirable does not hit them too severely. They maintain a hefty lead atop the OUA West, as they sit on the better side of a six-point gap between themselves and the second place Ryerson Rams. However, Ryerson does face Waterloo Thursday evening, a game that could tighten the gap with Toronto.
Western now travels back to their home arena for a crucial tilt with the Lakehead Thunderwolves, who sit a measly point behind them in the standings. A win for either team will significantly improve their postseason outlooks, while a loss could spell the beginning of the ned of each their seasons.
The Varsity Blues will also hit the highway, as they get set to face the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday night. Laurier sits in eighth place could very well take on Toronto in the playoffs, making the game a perfect post-season preview.