GUELPH—The Blues women’s hockey team travelled to Guelph last Saturday hoping to ease the sting from their first loss in two years the previous week. The game was a welcome salve, as they defeated the Gryphons, 7-4, at Gryphon Centre.
Nancy McLean and Safiya Muharuma led the Blues (6-1-0) offensively with two goals each. Susie Laska had a goal and an assist, while forwards Deandra Locicero and Bree Kruklis had two assists. Goaltender Alison Houston was solid, making 18 saves for the win.
“This game was important for us,” said captain Urszula May. “It helped us prove that we still are the strong team that we know we are.”
However, there were moments early in the game that could have changed the outcome for U of T.
At 1:25 of the first period, the Blues suffered a serious blow to their defence as assistant captain Stephenie Summerhill locked knees with a Gryphon skater in the Guelph zone.
The knee-on-knee hit forced Summerhill to leave the game; the extent of her injury was still to be determined.
“I hope to be out only a couple of weeks, if [the injury] isn’t too serious,” she said.
Three minutes later, Kruklis took a holding penalty. Less than a minute into the ensuing power play, the Gryphons (6-2-0) scored to take a 1-0 lead. Guelph forward Stephanie MacIntyre took a rebound and put it past goalie Houston, who had stopped the initial point shot.
The Blues changed the momentum of the game by scoring four goals in a five-minute span, tacking on another before Guelph finally answered.
Lynda Sturino tied the game a minute after the first Guelph goal off a deflection that fooled Gryphon goalie Jodie Wright at 6:15. Sixty-six seconds later McLean would score the first of her two goals, stuffing in a rebound off a Donna Paul shot. The goal gave the Blues a lead they would not relinquish.
“I’m happy with our offensive play,” May said. “We got a lot of goals [in that first period], a lot of scoring opportunities off some nice passing.”
Despite two Gryphon goals to cut the deficit to 5-3, the Blues held steady on the strength of a Muharuma power play goal at 12:32 of the second period. That lead would not be challenged until the last three minutes of the game, when Guelph’s Laura Church scored off a rush down the right side to make it a 6-4 game. The Blues’ Laska scored into an empty net with 38 seconds remaining to seal the victory for U of T.
Surrounding the victory were some concerns about the team’s defence.
The four goals by Guelph were the most allowed by the Blues this season in a single game. It also marked an accomplishment for the Gryphons, as they were beaten in Varsity Arena 10-0.
“We didn’t play too well defensively today,” said May. “The whole team’s defensive zone play was lacking. It was a bit disappointing—nobody should be scoring four goals on us.”
Next up for first-place U of T is a pair of games at second-place Queen’s (5-3-0) over the weekend.