Friday night at Varsity Arena the University of Toronto honoured its women’s hockey graduates at the annual Grad Night ceremony and game. Graduate and Blues’ captain Jill Savin used this night as a showcase for her all-around special talents, notching three goals and two assist in leading the Blues to a 5-4 victory over the Queen’s Golden Gaels.
After a cautious start, Savin opened the scoring with a wrist shot off the crossbar and in with two minutes left in the first. Seconds later, fellow graduate Lynda Sturino cashed in on a rebound from a Justine Todd shot, and it was 2-0 Blues after one period.
U of T came out determined at the beginning of the second period, supported by a raucous and vocal Blues bench. Savin quickly tallied two markers: the first off a nifty feed from Emily Patry, and the second on a nice individual effort to complete the hat-trick and put the Blues up 4-0.
The Golden Gaels picked up the intensity, however, half way through the period, and were rewarded with a Jackie Thurston goal with about five minutes left. Despite this late marker, the Blues still had to feel confident heading into the third period with a three-goal cushion.
Early in the third, it seemed U of T had put the game out of reach after Savin took a pass off her skate and slid the puck over to graduate Jacqueline Cherevaty, who found the back of the net to make the score 5-1 for the Varsity Blues. But the Golden Gaels refused to go away, scoring three goals in an eight-minute span to close the gap to 5-4 with two minutes left.
The crowd rose to its feet in anticipation for an intense final two minutes with the Queen’s net empty, and they were not disappointed. Six Queen’s attackers buzzed around the U of T net generating quality scoring chances, all of which were denied by Blues netminder Lisa Robertson. Robertson made several key saves in the dying seconds to help the Blues preserve their 5-4 win.
Overall, the Blues were successful in creating scoring chances off the rush, and shooting high on Queen’s goaltender Claire Hunt. On the defensive end, Robertson’s stellar play was supported by defenseman Kim Devereaux, who was solid down low all game long for the Blues, and also grabbed two assists in the victory.
However, it was apparent that this match was a tale of two games: the first half being dominated by the Blues, and the second half being a much more even contest.
“We need to show more consistency and play a full 60 minutes of hockey,” Savin commented. “We know we have the talent. Our coach knows and we know. It’s a matter of bringing what we do in practice into the game.”
Despite the close call, the night was highlighted by the play of U of T’s graduates. Savin, Sturino, and Cherevaty accounted for all the Blues scoring on this night. But even graduates who didn’t find their names on the score sheet provided key contributions. Amy Caldwell and Sue McCutcheon were exceptional on a crucial penalty kill with six minutes left in the game and Queen’s coming on strong.
The night belonged especially to captain Jill Savin, who was a defensive presence and displayed face-off prowess through all three periods to go along with her five-point night.
“All I need is for them to give me a ceremony before every game,” she joked afterwards. That might not be a bad idea.
Meanwhile, the Blues dropped their season finale on the road Saturday night, losing 2-1 to the Brock Badgers. The Blues finish their regular season with a 14-6-1-1 record, good enough for possession of first place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division.