The U of T Varsity Blues men’s hockey squad lost game three of their second-round playoff matchup to the Lakehead Thunderwolves 6–3. The loss ends their season and their chance at winning the Queen’s Cup. Thunderwolves forward Olivier Pouliot stole the show in Thunder Bay with a hat trick.
After winning game two in overtime, it was winner-takes-all on Saturday night. The Blues got off to a great start in game three as defender Nick Grima opened the scoring after an awkward bounce went the Blues’ way, putting them up 1–0 in the first five minutes.
The game went a while without a goal after Grima opened up the scoreboard. 16 minutes in, it was Thunderwolves forward Josh Van Unen getting them on the board, making the scoreboard even. After two periods of play, it was do or die for both teams heading into the third.
The first minute of the third period couldn’t have gone worse for the Blues, who gave up two goals in the first minute and one more in the next four minutes — including two from Pouliot which put the Blues down 4–1 with 15 minutes left in the game.
Ryan Barbosa gave the Blues some life, cutting the lead to a two-goal deficit, but shortly after, Pouliot scored a shorthanded goal to complete a hat trick and restore the three-goal lead for the Thunderwolves.
Much like in game one, Blues forward Cole Purboo scored a goal to bring the score to 5–3. But Griffen Fox’s empty-net goal was the dagger on the Blues’ season, as the Thunderwolves secured a spot in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West finals.
The Blues battled hard all season, climbing their way up the OUA West standings to eventually grab the fifth seed and knock off their downtown rivals, the Toronto Metropolitan University Bold in the first round. It was the first time they made it out of the first round under head coach Ryan Medel.
The Blues never quit and gave it their all against a strong Thunderwolves squad, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough this year.
Despite the loss, the Blues should be proud of their performance. They made the OUA men’s hockey quarter-finals for the first time since 2016. The Blues will look to train during the off-season, and come back harder next year.