Cristine Chao celebrates the first goal of the game. PHOTO BY HENRY ZHAO, COURTESY OF THE VARSITY BLUES

The Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team skated out with a win on Friday night at Varsity Arena after defeating the Laurentian Voyageurs. Many Toronto players displayed strength and skill in the 3–0 victory, with goaltender Madeline Albert gaining a shutout. But their teamwork was also key: the Blues’ ability to rely on each other made all the difference.

Toronto took the early lead, finding the back of the net seven minutes into the game. Defenseman Cristine Chao scored the power play goal, and Gabrielle De Serres earned the assist.

After Toronto took the one-goal lead, both teams had some great scoring chances, but no further goals were scored by the end of the first frame. Toronto’s defense kept the puck under control and after the first period allowed only four shots on net. Laurentian came out strong in the second period and changed the pace in search for the victory. The Blues quickly matched their level with outstanding plays and saves.

Toward the end of the second period and with 21 seconds left, Toronto’s leading scorer, Kassie Roache, committed a penalty putting the Voyageurs on power play that would carry into the third period. Toronto’s work ethic as a team prevailed even while one player down. Although under pressure, they were able to keep the 1–0 lead as they ended the second period, with thanks going especially to rookie goalie Albert, who made key saves.

Despite being a player down at the start of the third period, the Blues fought hard to keep their lead, and once the fifth player was out of the penalty box and back on the ice, most of the game action was spent in Voyageur territory. The nerves behind having only a one-goal lead showed in the energy of the crowd and in the Blues’ work ethic and strategies. It was evident that they wanted the win as they fought down to every last second.

The Voyageurs subbed out goaltender Dolighan for Karen Collins, while captain Ellery Veerman continued her team’s strong defensive play to prevent the Blues from scoring in the opening minutes of the third period. However, the Blues eventually found their way around the Voyageurs’ defense as Lauren Straatman added a second goal eight minutes into the third.

Following the second goal, the Blues found their confidence and dominated possession of the puck. Collins carried Laurentian’s defense, making some key stops in the period, but Toronto’s forwards continued to string together scoring opportunities and quickly found the back of the net, less than two minutes after Straatman’s goal. This time it was Roache who scored, finding Collins’ weak spot to increase Toronto’s lead to 3–0.

Toward the end of period, possession evened out and the two teams were neck and neck with their shots on goal. With two minutes left in the game, Laurentian continued their attack, although they were still unable to score on Albert. They fought hard, but it was evident that they had run out of time, despite the valiant comeback effort they attempted. Now, almost in the last minute of play, Voyageurs forward Annie Sheridan committed a crucial slashing penalty, providing the Blues with a power play and effectively ending any hope the Voyageurs had of making an improbable comeback.

With seconds left, Toronto was able to maintain complete possession of the puck, and when the final buzzer went off, the team had succeeded. After launching 20 shots on goal, the Blues won with a final score of 3–0, sending the Voyageurs packing with nothing.

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