The Varsity Blues women’s hockey team defeated their cross-town rivals, the Ryerson Rams, 2–0 over Thanksgiving Day weekend.
Families flocked to the Varsity Arena to cheer on their daughters, granddaughters, and big sisters. Many fans sported “Bleed Blue” stickers and U of T memorabilia in support of the team. The resounding background soundtrack of balloonstix came from little kids clapping them together in honour of the players on the ice.
Blues goaltender Krista Funke looked steady between the posts during the warm-up drills, blocking shot after shot from her teammates half an hour before the game. Funke was sensational in the net during the game itself, saving every single shot that came her way, and recording her first career shutout in the victory. She outshone Emma Crawley, her counterpart for the Rams, and set the bar high for the future.
There was no scoring in the first period. Both teams had two two-minute minor penalties each in the opening frame, though neither was able to capitalize on power plays.
The second period seemed almost as wobbly as the first. Both teams were still struggling to gain control of the puck during face-offs, but with just over three minutes left, forward Brenley Jorgensen scored the first goal for Toronto to give the Blues a 1–0 lead. Veteran forwards Amanda Fawns and Karolina Urban each recorded an assist on the goal.
“What made [the goal] successful was my winger, Fawns, who actually did most of the work. She took a shot that caused the rebound, and then all I had to do was touch it in,” Jorgensen said.
The Blues maintained their lead through the third period. Funke never sagged amidst the Rams’ barrage of attempts to squeeze a goal at the last minute, saving 15 shots on goal. With less than a minute to go, Urban flew down centre to secure the 2–0 win with a clean open-ice shot into an empty net. Jorgensen and Fawns were credited with assists.
“We didn’t want [the Rams] scoring, that’s all,” said Urban.
Marlie McLaughlin, Jacqueline Scheffel, and Courtney Tougas all had a good game with their impressive stick work, while Natalie Hughes, Kaitlyn Bannon, and Kelly Setter made numerous attempts to score. The Blues outshot the Rams 31–26.
“The coaching staff is very happy with what we see, and we’re excited to build,” said Blues head coach Vicky Sunohara. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s early, and we’re prepared to do it. So I think for the beginning of October, we’re off to a good start.
“We want to make it to the playoffs, we want to win OUAs, but we need to win each game at a time, we need to win each period, and everything will take care of itself.”
The Varsity Blues will take on the Chinese national team on Tuesday, October 18 at Varsity Arena. The puck drops at 7 pm.