The University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team began the semifinals of the McCaw Cup playoffs with a 4–1 win against the Guelph Gryphons at Varsity Arena on March 1, 2023.
The Blues scored three goals in the first period including one in the first two minutes of the game and they kept the momentum going for the rest of the game.
It all started when rookie forward Isabella Greco roused the crowd with a goal two minutes into the first period to give the Blues an early 1–0 lead.
“As a team we came out flying — we were ready to go,” said Greco.
The goal was Greco’s first playoff goal as a Blue. She described the feeling as “awesome” because of the atmosphere at Varsity Arena.
The Blues were relentless on the forecheck and dominated the first period.
The Blues outshot the Gryphons 10–1 in the first five minutes before going to an early powerplay. Guelph did get a scoring chance shorthanded but Blues goaltender Erica Fryer had the best of her 25 saves of the night, denying Guelph on a cross crease shot.
Star forward Céline Frappier doubled the Blues’ lead late in the period when her shot beat Gryphons’s goaltender Martina Fedel but they weren’t done yet. With eight seconds left in the first and the Blues on a powerplay, centre Natasha Athanasakos gave the Blues a 3–0 lead and capping off a period where they outshot Guelph 22–5.
In the second period, Blues forward Aili McKeown extended the lead after her getting the shot off while being tripped, going post and in for a 4–0 Toronto lead. Gryphons forward Abby Davies scored a late powerplay goal but the Blues went into the intermission with a 4–1 lead.
The third period was defined by fast, physical, “Blues Hockey.” The Blues preserved the lead by winning puck battles, getting bodies in front of pucks, and continuing to apply the pressure on the Gryphons.
The Blues lead could’ve been up by more had it not been for some of the saves Fedel was making while battling a rowdy crowd of Blues fans.
Great crowd tonight pic.twitter.com/J5OayJ5rp9
— Cole Hayes (@cole__hayes) March 2, 2023
The final buzzer sounded and the Blues skated off with a 4–1 win and the 1–0 series lead.
The Blues will have a chance to punch their ticket to the McCaw Cup finals with a win on the road in game two. Puck drop for that game is Saturday at 2:30 P.M.