TORONTO, ONT– As the weather finally turns to late autumn in Ontario, the OUA hockey season begins to run with regularity as teams get into the rhythm of preparing for their next games.
In men’s hockey, the only undefeated teams in U SPORTS find themselves in the OUA, while women’s hockey continues to bring the unexpected excitement of the early season.
MHKY: After great opening weeks, can Aucoin and Bollers rebound?
Seven goals and five goals. To say the first weekend of OUA hockey was a success for Carleton’s Parker Aucoin and TMU’s Kyle Bollers would be an understatement, and while they continue to be 1-2 in league scoring, their production has dried up in the games since then.
After his six-point opening weekend, Bollers has been held goalless in three straight games, only picking up an assist in a mid-week win over Guelph, where the Bold erased a 3-0 deficit in the third period to win 4-3 in overtime.
At the same time, Bollers has been consistent in his defensive effort, dropping back while moving up the boards when needed on a line with veteran Jesse Barwell and fellow sophomore Kevin Gursoy.
Still, the three-game dry spell is his longest ever in the OUA regular season. Now with a visit to Brock on Saturday, he’ll look to get back among the goal-scoring.
For Aucoin, who has never been a proven goal-scorer in the OUA with the Carleton Ravens, this weekend’s game against the UQTR Patriotes gives him a chance to prove he can play with the nation’s best. With only a goal next weekend, scoring against the defending OUA and U SPORTS champions could also give him a significant confidence boost.
Either way the weekend goes, Bollers and Aucoin have proven their scoring prowess so far this season, and there’s little doubt they rekindle their form down the stretch and likely into the second half.
MHKY: The nation’s only undefeated teams
There’s no doubt the UQTR Patriotes were the best team in the nation in 2021-22. Now this year, they’re the last undefeated team standing after at least five games played, while Brock has yet to lose after four games.
2022-23, so far, has been perfect for last season’s Queen’s Cup Finalists.
UQTR enters their game against Carleton ranked #1 in the country’s top-10, and is coming off a dominant 5-0 win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Julien Tessier and Simon LaFrance have led the way recently, but all four lines have been clicking for Marc-Etienne Hubert’s team, while both Alexis Gravel and William Grimard have save percentages above .915 and have looked confident in the crease.
Brock, meanwhile, hasn’t had as large a sample size nor the quality of opponents that UQTR has had. Yet, they are still undefeated, with wins against Western and Waterloo. Heading into a tilt with TMU at home on Saturday, the Badgers will hope to handle a team that is among the best in the nation while also building on a commanding 4-2 win against Laurier.
Jared Marino and Jacob Roach starred for the Badgers in their Thursday night win, scoring two goals apiece, while Aiden Hughes stepped up to make 36 saves in Mario Peccia’s absence.
WHKY: Rivalry week for the Varsity Blues
After an opening night loss to Waterloo to start the season, the Toronto Varsity Blues made a statement to end the first week of OUA play, downing the defending McCaw Cup Champion Brock Badgers 3-1 at the brand new Canada Games Park.
This week, however, head coach Vicky Sunohara brings her Blues to rinks around the GTA, taking on local foes, the York Lions and TMU Bold, looking to prove that once again, they are the strongest program in the local area.
While no players jumped off the scoresheet through the first two games, look for veteran Natasha Athanasakos to lead the way this weekend against a young York team and a TMU program that is still defining its style. The Markham, Ont. native chipped in with a pair of assists last weekend, as the Blues were also helped by third-year defender Madelyn Walsh jumping into the attack.
Erica Fryer is bound to start in goal for Toronto, bringing confidence to one of the most consistent defensives groups in the OUA.
Although it may be difficult to call these games a rivalry when York hasn’t won the matchup since 2017-18 and TMU since Feb. 26, 2020, the local talents and small bubble that is hockey in the GTA make these familiar faces an exciting challenge.
WHKY: Can Waterloo keep up dynamic offence?
The Waterloo Warriors began their OUA season last week with thrilling, high-scoring wins over Guelph and Toronto, two of the stronger teams in the conference.
Heading into the second weekend with a pair of games against Kitchener-Waterloo rivals Wilfrid Laurier, the Warriors have a golden opportunity to improve to 4-0, while also potentially adding to their stat lines.
A player to watch for will be Kassidy McCarthy, who enters the weekend as Waterloo’s leading scorer after a three-point night against Guelph and an assist against Toronto. The native of Bowmanville, Ont. has already tied her OUA career-high point total from last season and could elevate her game and confidence against a struggling Golden Hawks program.
The Golden Hawks, however, will look for their first win of the season and first victory over Waterloo since a 3-2 overtime win in January 2019.
Playing geographic rivals and a weaker team is a near-perfect storm for the Warriors this weekend, as they get a couple of games to get settled in their patterns before taking on more of the conference contenders moving forward.