The U of T Varsity Blues men’s hockey team punched their ticket to the second round of the playoffs with a 5–3 win against the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold in game three at the Mattamy Athletic Centre Sunday afternoon.

What happened 

The Varsity Blues got off to a bad start in the first 33 seconds of the game, as TMU’s captain Jesse Barwell was alone in the slot and beat goaltender Jett Alexander to give TMU the 1–0 lead. The Blues had chances to tie the game with three power plays in the first 10 minutes, but they failed to capitalize on any of their chances. With seven minutes left in the first period, the Blues got the equalizer when forward Ben Woodhouse scored off a rebound, tying the game at one. 

With 31 seconds left in the period, TMU capitalized on a Blues turnover in the defensive zone, and forward Daniel D’Amico gave TMU the 2–1 lead heading into intermission. 

In the second period, the Blues dominated the pace of play and physicality. The Blues’ line of Woodhouse, Jacob King, and Steven Elliott found itself in the middle of the physicality. King also found himself on the scoresheet when he grabbed his own rebound and beat Bold goaltender Kai Edmonds. Later in the period, the Blues took the lead when the referees missed Woodhouse high stick TMU’s Zachary Shankar. Forward Cole Purboo capitalized on the missed call and tipped in a point shot for his second goal of the series.

TMU tied the game at three right after the Blues killed a penalty, and the game went to intermission with a feeling that the next goal could be the difference maker. 

It was a tight third period, with neither team giving an inch until TMU’s defense gave Woodhouse a mile and left him all alone in front of the net for his second goal of the night, giving the Blues a 4–3 lead.

“That was the best game I’ve seen Woody play in his career with the blue and white. He was phenomenal tonight. I thought his whole line [with] Elliott and Jacob King had a massive impact on the game. That line hasn’t always got a tone of minutes but they showed up in a big way for us tonight,” said Head Coach Ryan Medel. 

Woodhouse’s goal was the game winner, and forward Owen Robinson’s empty netter brought the score to 5–3 and secured the Blues spot in the second round of the playoffs.

What’s next

The Blues will now turn their attention to the first seed Lakehead Thunderwolves on Wednesday, February 22. It is the first time the Blues have advanced to the men’s hockey quarter finals since 2016. Medel said if the Blues play as a five-man unit they are “capable of doing some pretty special things.”