HALIFAX, NS – Nathan Torchia and co. look to cement U SPORTS history for Lancers
It’s not the explosive offence, flashy special teams, or relentless hard-hitting play of the Windsor Lancers that makes them a dangerous team to beat coming into the 2023 U CUP in Charlottetown.
It’s the monster in between the pipes, Nathan Torchia.
The Baden, ON native and former Georgetown Raider was named the U SPORTS Goalie of the Year earlier this week. Torchia led the country in save percentage with a 0.936, played the second most minutes (1,321) in the OUA, and co-led his conference with 16 wins alongside Concordia’s Jonathan Lemieux.
The Lancers are back in the U SPORTS Championship dance for the first time since 2015 and are looking for their first national championship in program history. The team concluded the season with an 18-6-3 record which gave them a bye into the quarterfinals. That is where they swept the Brock Badgers. Then they took down the Lakehead Thunderwolves in a decisive game three in Thunder Bay in the conference semi-final.
Windsor then fell in the Queen’s Cup final last Saturday in heartbreaking fashion to the UQTR Patriotes. The sold-out crowd at the Capri Pizzeria Recreation Complex in Windsor was silenced when the visiting side ended the game early into the third overtime period.
Although the loss, the Lancers received the #4 seed and will be taking on the Canada West Finalists, the Alberta Golden Bears. A team that has a ton of experience at nationals and will look to avenge their triple-overtime loss in the championship game last year. The winner will take on either the Calgary Dinos or the host UPEI Panthers.
Anthony Stefano led Windsor in points with 27 in an equal number of games and was the lone OUA all-star on the team. The Lancers don’t have a double-digit goal scorer, but their ability to win tight games was a huge reason they finished the season tied atop the OUA West Division. They went 9-3-2 in one-goal games during the regular season.
A scoring-by-committee approach is more so the style for the blue and gold, with seven players raking up 15 or more points. That included 12 skaters with game-winning goals led by Brady Pataki, Hunter Holmes, and Matt Dorsey with three apiece.
When it comes to a single elimination tournament, special teams are often times a large factor. The Lancer powerplay was below average during the regular season but was successful during the playoffs capitalizing at 21.4%. It’s no question they can keep the puck out of their own net, but being able to click on the man advantage would be a huge bonus.
Their penalty kill, on the other hand, is one of the reasons why the team was so good down the stretch. Windsor’s penalty kill was the third-best in the country, working at an 88.2% success rate. In the playoffs, it was even better at 90.0% even. The team had eight shorthanded goals during the 2022-23 campaign, with three of those coming off the stick of Mason Kohn.
That being said, their quarter-final opponent Alberta had the nation’s best powerplay at 27.7% so something has got to give. Unless of course, the Lancers don’t take any penalties.
Solely based on the seedings, this matchup between the Lancers and Golden Bears should be the most exciting of the quarter-final. Each year we see upsets, but in this game, regardless of who wins, I wouldn’t label it as that. It’s a game between two teams who enter the tournament fresh off a loss, and it’s simply a matter of who will take advantage of their second chance opportunity.
Puck drop is 11:00 am ET on CBC Sports.