The Varsity Blues men’s scraped out a victory against the feisty Waterloo Warriors team at Varsity Arena on November 6. The Blues never gave up the lead, and goalie Michael Nishi continued his superb play this season, denying a late onslaught to earn the win.
Captain Andrew Doyle scored an early goal to set the tone in the first period. However, the Warriors struck back shorthanded halfway through the frame, with Colin Behanna slipping a tipped shot fivehole on Blues goalie Michael Nishi. Two minutes later, rookie Max Flanagan scored off the rush, enabling the Blues to gain the 2-1 lead. The Warriors fought hard, but solid penalty killing and some great saves preserved the Blues’ lead after one period.
The Blues wasted no time in the second period. Third-year power forward Dean Klomp converted a pass from OHL (Ontario Hockey League) veteran and Blues rookie Mathew Campagna to extend the lead. The Warriors continued to incite the Blues physically, and scored on a Blues penalty, cutting the lead to one. While the Blues defenders Matt Heffernan and Josh Villaflor, fearlessly blocked shots to maintain the lead, Warriors forward Andrew Smith scored off the rush to tie the game at three with eight minutes remaining in the period. Once again the Blues responded, scoring two goals in 43 seconds to regain the two-goal lead.
The Blues’ defence had to play cautiously early in the third period thanks to a five-minute major for a headshot by veteran defenseman Mathew Oakley. The Warriors capitalized immediately, with a power play goal by Brett Mackie. The Blues held onto their lead by a thread for the duration of the third, relying on clutch goal keeping, selfless shot blocking, and quite a bit of good luck.
The 5-4 victory was U of T’s third of the season, placing them at 3-4-1 so far. While defence continues to be a problem for the team, players like Campagna, Klomp, and feisty rookie Ryan Kirkup have made a huge difference for the squad’s offense strategy. Michael Nishi continued playing well and will be relied upon heavily as the season progresses.
The Blues next game will take them to Thunder Bay where they will take on Lakehead University.