TORONTO, ON – In some ways, it feels like the OUA men’s and women’s hockey seasons just started, but a quick look at the calendar and it’s clear that the best teams are already shining through, with those struggling looking to turn their fortunes quickly.
With October in the rearview and the November schedule looming, we look at some takeaways from the latest round of OUA hockey and the first month of the season.
MHKY: McGill hitting form on three-game win streak
The McGill Redbirds began this season with high expectations after missing out on the OUA men’s hockey podium last season with a loss to the TMU Bold. While it’s taken them a little longer than expected, they’ve finally hit form, winning three straight, including two this weekend.
Entering the weekend coming off a win against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks, the Redbirds added dominating victories against the Queen’s Gaels and Nipissing Lakers, 6-2 and 6-1.
William Rouleau, Eric Uba and Maxime Blanchard all had two-goal games this weekend, while the goaltending depth shined through, with Alexis Shank making 21 saves on 22 shots in the Nipissing win while Emmanuel Vela stopped 37 of 39 against the Gaels.
Additionally, blueliner Scott Walford has been critical to the powerplay and five-on-five puck possession, playing a role in nearly half of McGill’s goals with 10 points on the season, leading the team in scoring.
While beating winless Nipissing was expected, the fast beat down of the Gaels to open the weekend showed how competitive the Redbirds could be as they round into form heading into the season’s second month.
“There was good enthusiasm out there tonight; we’ve talked about building that energy from doing little things,” head coach Dave Urquhart noted. “Things like stopping at the net, winning a foot race, coming back hard on pucks and blocking shots. Those little things add up to make a big difference. We came out with good energy, maintained that and wore them down.”
The Redbirds have scored the second most goal in the OUA with 27 and have improved in performance through nearly every game. Riding a three-game win streak, Uba and the crew eye next week’s trip to Ottawa to face uOttawa and Carleton with a chance of taking over the top spot in the OUA East.
MHKY: Bollers delivers for Bold, ending Brock’s streak
Scorers score, and that’s what TMU Bold forward did this weekend as the Bold ended the Brock Badger’s undefeated run at four games in a battle of the U SPORTS Top-10.
After going three games without a goal, the longest goal-less streak in his OUA career, the native of Oshawa, Ontario, opened the scoring on a penalty kill before adding four assists in TMU’s 6-4 victory over the Badgers.
While sophomore Zach Taylor opened the scoring for Brock, the Bold blueline tightened up quickly, while rookie goaltender Kai Edmonds kept his form, making 26 saves in the victory, TMU’s 5th of the season.
Although the win elevated the Bold to within a goal of first place in the OUA West, only behind by a single goal tiebreaker to the Windsor Lancers, the main takeaway was the reinvigorated form of the top line featuring Bollers, Patrick Fellows and Jesse Barwell.
Bollers, who had his third multi-point game of the season on Saturday, has been one of the conference’s most electric offensive talents since joining the Bold in 2020 and looks improved through six games this season. He’s sitting atop the OUA with 12 points, one ahead of UQTR’s Simon LaFrance.
Moving onto a double-game weekend in Thunder Bay against the Lakehead Thunderwolves, head coach Johnny Duco and the Bold will look to take the top spot in the division against a team that Bollers scored a career-high six points in a game against on March 4, 2022.
OUA WHKY: Two final staying undefeated
Coming into the weekend, nearly half of the OUA had yet to lose a match. Now, the Waterloo Warriors and Nipissing Lakers are just the first-placed teams. However, overall the Warriors have the advantage with more regulation wins, while Nipissing sits at 11 points with an OT victory.
The Warriors, an exuberant group to start the season, continued their form with 3-1 and 6-1 victory against Kitchener-Waterloo foes, the Laurier Golden Hawks. Although the Golden Hawks are far from OUA title contenders, the Warriors showed dominance, as Tatum James posted a goal and four assists over two games.
Although it took the Warriors a little while to hit their stride in Friday’s 3-1 win, it was a quick start on Saturday, as Elizabeth Lenardon, Olivia Parkinson, Leah Heffort and James put the black and gold ahead by four after 20 minutes.
In net, Mickaela Schnarr and Kara Mark had near identical weekends, stopping 26 of 27 shots and 25 of 26, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Nipissing Lakers grabbed narrow wins over the Windsor Lancers and Western Mustangs as the Darren Turcotte-led program sits atop the OUA East.
Both have been stellar to start the year and will look to move their form into November as they approach the winter break with championship contender aspirations.
OUA WHKY: Toronto finish their away run
The season’s opening weeks were daunting for the Toronto Varsity Blues, spending their first four games and the entire October schedule away from the friendly, cozy confines of Varsity Arena.
Yet, they’ve linked three wins together after losing to the Waterloo Warriors on opening night, beating the TMU Bold, Brock Badgers and York Lions, all while showing they continue to be one of the conference’s premier hockey programs.
With Erica Fryer continuing to backstop the steam in the crease, head coach Vicki Sunohara has adjusted to playing without veterans, such as Gabrielle De Serres, giving more prominent roles to Olivia Hilton and Emma Potter.
At the same time, Toronto has had a wide spread of goalscorers, with nine players scoring, with Aili McKeown leading the team with a trio of goals, including a four-point weekend against TMU and York.
After winning three of four away from home to start the season, the Varsity Blues are staring down an upcoming three games at Varsity Arena, with five of their seven November tilts set for the rink on Toronto’s Bloor Street. With the form they’ve established on the road, everything is pointing positive for the Varsity Blues
49 Sports’ Men’s Skater of the Week: Kyle Bollers, TMU Bold (1 goal, 4 assists vs Brock)
49 Sports’ Men’s Goalie of the Week: Christian Sbaraglia, uOttawa Gee-Gees (30-save shutout vs Ontario Tech)
49 Sports’ Women’s Skater of the Week: Aili McKeown, Toronto Varsity Blues (1 goal, 3 assists vs TMU/York)
49 Sports’ Women’s Goalie of the Week: Martina Fedel, Guelph Gryphons (47 saves on 49 shots vs Queen’s/Ontario Tech)