TORONTO, ON – Carleton’s Parker Aucoin scored seven times, TMU’s Kyle Bollers scored five, and offence exploded across the OUA’s opening weekend with 126 goals in 19 games — if there was one thing that OUA men’s hockey players missed, it was putting the puck in the back of the net. Still, as the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks and uOttawas Gee-Gees combined for six goals on opening night, electric action returned to OUA rinks.
UQTR shakes off nerves against Queen’s
After winning the Queen’s Cup and University Cup last season, the UQTR Patriotes have double-championship goals in mind once again. Yet, their first weekend didn’t go exactly to plan, at least for a start.
On Friday, their first game of the season, the Patriotes quickly fell behind 4-1 to the Queen’s Gaels midway through the second period.
However, just as they stormed back against the University of Alberta in the 2022 U CUP Final, head coach Marc-Étienne Hubert rallied his group to a late comeback, with Justin Bergeron tying the game with less than three minutes remaining, only for Simon LaFrance to win the game 6-5 with 30 seconds on the clock.
The Patriotes showcased their dynamic attack even with new faces in the lineup and showed that they could continue to be a group that was one of the OUA’s and U SPORTS’ most exciting offences last season. Yet despite the goal-fest, the most critical takeaway for UQTR was their ability to regain focus despite shaky times and an early deficit.
In their second tilt with Queen’s, UQTR got off to a quicker start, and it was clear that some of the nerves of the home debut had worn off from the night before. In the 4-1 win, there was an extra stride in Jordan LePage’s rushes from the blue line, while rookie goaltender William Grimard made 27 saves on 28 shots in his debut.
Julien Tessier ended the weekend with a team-leading goal and three assists.
Facing adversity to start the season could prove an advantage for the Patriotes, who got a quick wakeup call, drawing their attention off the two trophies that hung around the building. Additionally, with eight different goalscorers and five rookies on the scoresheet, the program’s depth is shining through as they approach games against the Nipissing Lakers next weekend.
A Brockin’ start to the season
Coming off an underdog run to the Queen’s Cup Final last season, the Brock Badgers made a slew of changes in the last few months, most noteworthy replacing interim head coach Kevin Forrest with former NCAA coach TJ Manastersky.
If the first weekend is any indication, they’ve made a good choice, as Manastersky’s Badgers grabbed two wins and two shutouts in a 6-0 win against Waterloo and a 4-0 victory against Western.
Brock was dominant from the start in the Waterloo game, scoring three goals in the opening 12 minutes through tallies from veterans Jared Marino, Matthew Barnes and Cole Tymkin. While they settled into a more defensive game after the early lead, the Badgers added three more before the night’s end and ensured that Waterloo’s forwards seldom tested goaltender Mario Peccia.
In the win over Western, the Badgers suffocated a Mustangs’ offence that had scored four against Guelph the night before, as Manastersky’s team once again played their opponents off the ice, this time their home opener at Canada Games Park.
The two shutouts are the first for Brock’s program in the regular season since a 4-0 win against Lakehead on Jan. 30, 2020.
Although goalscoring was the weekend’s trend, Brock’s ability to shut down opponents’ chances shows a clear and sustainable identity for how they hope to play this season. With a confident defence and goals easily flowing, the Badgers take on Western for a second time before clashing with their former coach, Forrest, and the Laurier Golden Hawks.
TMU does the double on Toronto rivals
If there’s a strong way to start the season, beating your closest rivals is a pretty good way to do it. For the TMU Bold, it was a five-goal weekend from Kyle Bollers, which led them to wins over the York Lions and Toronto Varsity Blues.
Bollers, the OUA West Rookie of the Year in 2021-22, looked to be a more mature and punishing player on the weekend, showcasing his refined one-timer, dropping down to a knee and continuously firing pucks from the faceoff dots.
On Friday, the Bold went up 2-0 in the first period, with Bollers scoring twice on assists from 5th-year senior Jesse Barwell en route to a 3-1 win over a young York team. Meanwhile, on Saturday, Bollers’ scored a hat-trick as they beat Toronto 6-1, the largest margin of victory since 2016 between the two teams.
“He’s an elite player, an elite person, he works harder than anybody, and he’s tremendously talented,” Duco said about Bollers’ weekend. “When you put all those things together with the drive and the willingness he has, it’s fun to watch.”
TMU ended the weekend scoring twice on five powerplay opportunities, establishing themselves as the top powerplay in the OUA at 40% through the opening games.
While the offensive output led by a line of Bollers, Barwell, and Kevin Gursoy was the standout moment, the goaltending of the rookie netminder was a welcome spotlight, as he made 44 saves on 46 shots through the first two games.
Now, the attention shifts to a midweek home-opening matchup with the Varsity Blues and a weekend tilt with the Waterloo Warriors, who TMU beat in the second round of the 202 Queen’s Cup Playoffs.
Players of the week:
Skater of the week: Parker Aucoin, Carleton (7 goals in 2 games)
Goalie of the week: Mario Peccia, Brock (43 saves, 2 shutouts)
Upcoming games to watch:
Oct. 20 – Toronto Varsity Blues @ TMU Bold (6:00 pm ET)
Oct. 20 – Concordia Stingers @ McGill Redbirds (7:00 pm ET)
Oct. 22 – Carleton Ravens @ Queen’s Gaels (7:30 pm ET)