What the Soar Youth Indigenous program adds to KPE

Annual program gives Indigenous youth a U of T experience

What the Soar Youth Indigenous program adds to KPE

To help increase enrolment and engagement with postsecondary education among Indigenous communities, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education initiated the Soar Indigenous Youth Gathering program. Soar, which was launched in 2009, is a week-long program held during March break that exposes a group of Indigenous youth to university life.

The program requires that applicants be Indigenous youth aged 14–17, residents of Ontario, and committed to participating in the full week of events. Participants stay at the Chelsea Hotel and may receive up to $400 for travel expenses. Information regarding Soar is communicated through postcards sent out to Indigenous communities, while coordinators visit local Indigenous events and communities in addition to sending emails to the Toronto District School Board.

“Each year, we introduce high school students to Indigenous role models — faculty and students — so they can see themselves in a few years coming to higher education,” Susan Lee, who manages co-curricular diversity and equity programs within the faculty, said to U of T News in 2017.

The program is meant to increase awareness of postsecondary education opportunities among Indigenous youth, as well as engage them in leadership opportunities. “It’s just opening up the doors for them to say, ‘here’s an opportunity for you,’” Lee added.

Soar offers an exciting opportunity for Indigenous students to gain an idea of what university life has to offer, and to bring together Indigenous youth with similar desires. By playing games, touring campus, attending workshops, and learning about the school’s many different programs, Indigenous students in the Soar program are made to feel welcome at U of T.

Programs such as Soar provide Indigenous students with a fun and exciting March break while also showing them that U of T is excited to have them. 

On the hunt for the ‘runner’s high’

Track star-approved trails to convert the anti-runner

On the hunt for the ‘runner’s high’

There are very few pasttimes more controversial than a run.

On one side are the avid dissenters, those who profess that nothing could be more unpleasant than a jog around the block. These are the folks who tend to opt for taking the elevator over the stairs and are big fans of those moving walkways in airports.

The opposing camp, however, raves endlessly about the magic of a run in the park with such uninhibited fervour that you would think scuffed sneakers and blistered feet were addictive.

As such, they often mention the wondrous ‘runner’s high,’ a phenomenon much spoken of but little explained. The runner will enthusiastically describe the euphoric feeling of blood in your cheeks, wind beneath your feet, or any other consequence of running that still fails to exemplify the promised addictive excitement to a staunch opposer.

It seems like the kind of thing you have to feel to believe. So, if you’re an inquiring anti-runner looking to convert, or are just looking to shake up your running routine, we have a few suggestions. The Varsity spoke to U of T alum and former Varsity Blues track star Madeleine Kelly for her advice on some runs that will get you jonesing for your next fix.

“A route is as difficult as you make it,” says Kelly. “So I don’t know which of these is the most difficult. I can tell you a little bit about the surfaces.”

If you’re looking for a scenic, hilly jog, she recommends Riverdale Park: “There’s a track there, and then there’s also a great hill, so you can get hill work in your bag or get some speed training.” The closest major intersection to her favourite running spot in the park is at Broadview and Danforth Avenues.

If you’re interested in testing your endurance, Kelly says that the best place to get in a long run is along the waterfront. “The Martin Goodman Trail goes for [roughly] 30 kilometres, along the bottom of Toronto,” she says, and the views of Lake Ontario don’t hurt either.

Finally, if you’re looking for a calm, “sheltered,” meditative run, she suggests the Beltline Trail, a nine-kilometre scenic route along an old railway line running from west of Allen Road down past Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the latter being a surprisingly peaceful running spot in its own right: “The cemetery is also great if you want a workout: rolling hills, limited traffic.”

Kelly also encourages runners to hop on the ever-dreaded treadmill. “I see it as a training tool if the weather’s brutal, then in my opinion it’s a much better option than potentially wiping out.”

However, it’s never her first choice, and she concedes that she would “always go outdoors if [she] had the option.” The takeaway for discouraged newbies? Try a scenic route instead of a machine, and maybe you’ll find yourself lacing up your running shoes more often than you think.

What makes Michèle Bélanger tick

Blues women’s basketball coach reflects on 40 years

What makes Michèle Bélanger tick

The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team’s long and difficult season has concluded, leaving behind a trail of injuries and constantly changing lineups. The season went down to the wire, as a victory against the York Lions and several other alternative outcomes could have led to a playoff run. Despite the inconsistent lineups all season, the one stalwart constant was coach Michèle Bélanger’s commitment to developing strong and team-oriented players.

During halftime of the Blues’ final game, Bélanger’s 40th season milestone was recognized. The ceremony had more to do with fans’ appreciation for and recognition of a great coach than for Bélanger herself. In fact, Bélanger has found success by making her job about everyone but herself — the mark of a truly devoted leader.

Bélanger admits that she’s not easily excited by celebrating Coach of the Year awards, coaching Team Canada, or making it to year 40 with the Blues. Instead her main source of excitement and pride is working with the hundreds of Varsity Blues players whom she has helped improve, both on and off the court.

The Varsity spoke with Bélanger before the final weekend of the regular season about her coaching career and how she builds team communication and leadership.

The Varsity: Can you tell me what you were like as a player?

Michèle Bélanger: I really picked up the game in grade nine. We had one weekend tournament and I got kind of hooked on it. I thought it was kind of an exciting game. The coach basically told me to go from one end to the other underneath the basket, and I thought, “Oh, this is a lot of fun!” I learned that team sports is really what I’m all about. I played big in high school and then when I got to Laurentian, I was mostly inside out. I was more of a 3, 4 [a forward], and on the national team I was a 3 [small forward]. Back in the day we had no three-point line, so I learned how to do a pull-up jumper in my last two years of playing, because women really didn’t do a pull-up jumper. It was a set shot: catch, shoot. The guys did it and I wanted to know how to do that, [so] I went to coach and he just walked away. I transfered to Victoria and asked a good friend of ours who was coaching the men’s team, and said I want to learn how to do this!

TV: When did you realize you wanted to stay with basketball as a coach?

MB: I got cut from the national team in my last year playing at Victoria, in 1978–1979. That spring, I got really sick that year, and I still thought I could do it. The competing level is always there but the body wasn’t. So anyway, I got cut. I was really hurt by it, I didn’t know how to fill that void. [My friend] encouraged me to apply for this job — it was open — I said I don’t know much about coaching, so I did. I came in for an interview. In my mind it was going to be a one-year deal.

TV: Over the 40 years of coaching here, what has been your biggest accomplishment?

MB: Coming into work never feeling like it’s actually work. My biggest accomplishment? I don’t know, I don’t have one. It’s really hard to say. What I find more rewarding than anything else is the athletes coming back and remembering the good times that they’ve had, and telling stories and liking to be around each other. They always think that their teams were better than everyone else’s.

TV: Has there been one really low point?

MB: No, no, no, no, no. No dark days. I still love it every day. There’s not one day where I rethink: do I really want to be here?

TV: What about the U of T program has kept you around?

MB: The support has been outstanding. We’ve had great support from the institution, I think this institution in particular really fosters women moving forward and keeping women involved in the game, or in sport itself. There’s not a lot of institutions that [have] lots of women in positions of authority. The athletic director is female, they’re not afraid of doing that — they’re really open-minded. I think that showed a lot of progress, we’ve done that right from the get-go. When I started in 1979, we had women in powerful positions, and they were great mentors. You don’t see a lot of that. So it’s been a really welcoming environment.

TV: Your overall record before this season, including playoffs, is 838–462, giving you about a .650 record.

MB: .650, this year that’s going down the tubes!

TV: Do you ever think about those stats?

MB: No, oh my god, no! That to me is all irrelevant.

TV: What about your eight Coach of the Year awards?

MB: No, no. I don’t even like this whole celebration thing. It’s really not about me, it’s about the players… It’s not about being singled out, it’s not about the amount of wins, it’s not about the awards. It’s really about the experiences that you are providing those 12–15 athletes that are on that given year. And to give them the best and move them forward as best [as] you possibly can.

TV: What are your main coaching strategies and morals?

MB: To be always ethical in everything that you do. To treat each and every person as an individual within the context of the team, and to try and get everyone to mould together as a team. It has gotten harder and harder over these last 10–12 years because of social media.

TV: How?

MB: The world is different today than it was 10–12 years ago. People are growing up with phones, people don’t communicate as well as they used to. It’s made it very difficult to get players to talk to each other authentically. The sense of urgency in the now is very different than it was. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. I think they really desperately want to be great communicators. And I think it’s going to be a lost art if we don’t fix it.

TV: Are there team rules regarding phones?

MB: Oh yeah, they’re good. The girls are outstanding. They don’t bring phones to meetings, their phones are not on in the team room. We don’t need to put those rules in, they know.

TV: So you’ve always made the effort to always get to know players?

MB: I got to get to know people. You get a sense of what they’re like and then that’s what you have to build the relationship. If you don’t know, then how could you build a relationship? If you don’t have a relationship then it’s hard to trust. If they’re going to work hard for the whole, then you need to know about the whole. Like if there’s a hardship going on in someone’s life, if it’s not shared with the coach or the team, then it’s very difficult to have empathy and sympathy… to build that connection so people have your back. It’s hard to have your back on the court if you don’t know what’s going on in their life. I’ve got to believe that.

TV: When you took the job did you see yourself staying here for 40 years?

MB: Oh my god, never! I didn’t see myself here until I was forced to buy into the pension plan [laughs]. I think you have to be 30 or something and then you have to buy into it, so I was like oh, I guess I have no choice. In my mind it was always going to be a short-term thing and then you start to love it… then you start to live it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Mental health recovery programs for athletes

How your athletic résumé can be your gateway to psychological reformation

Mental health recovery programs for athletes

Staring at a blank wall, your mind starts to use it as a movie screen. You see flashbacks of the game-ending goal or a play that you read wrong. The paper that is due next week, sporting only your typed-out name, is the last thing on your mind. As those walls start to feel as though they are closing in on you, you search for a breath of fresh air or even a door that leads to an escape. “Where are these opportunities for help?” you ask. “As a varsity athlete, how can I ever be seen with a concerned look on my face?”

Just like when you take a step forward to find the puck buried under the goalie or meet the soccer ball at the centre of the field, there is a whole team that can offer you support on campus as an athlete and beyond that can cater to your discipline.

A March 2018 report by the Toronto Mental Health and Addictions Access Point in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Wellesley Institute found that over 13,000 people in Toronto were on a waitlist for mental health services and addictions supportive housing. This shows how many people out there are ready to talk and receive help. As students, we have access to University of Toronto benefits such as workshops and on-site physicians at the Health & Wellness Centre that can lead us in the right direction. We should consider ourselves lucky and ensure that we make use of these resources whenever we can to better our health.

Sometimes, just  switching to a new environment can be beneficial for mental relief, especially as athletes who spend a lot of time at faculty gyms and with the same people.

The Canadian Centre For Mental Health And Sport (CCMHS), based in Ottawa, offers a self-referral program and is now accepting new patients. From personal experience, most clinics prefer having applications submitted by physicians, so consider this a rare opportunity. The centre  provides doctors specifically qualified to treat athletes 16 years old and over who compete at the provincial level or higher and experience mental health challenges. Ambassadors for the CCMHS include professional hockey player Ben Meisner. To say you would be in good hands is an understatement.

As athletes, it’s important to continue to prioritize your mental health beyond the tight circle of physicians you meet during recovery, even through something as simple as having a positive conversation with a close friend or someone going through the same situation as you are.

Stella’s Place is located in downtown Toronto, and is a mental health organization for young adults between the ages of 16 and 29 that offers a variety of creative mental health services and spaces. For instance, Stella’s Studio is an “arts-based community” where peers can “create and share art.” There is also a café where you can grab coffee, finish up work in a safe and welcoming environment, and even meet up with those you met during your classes to hang out. 

The road to recovery doesn’t just stop there. You can also download BeanBagChat, an app operated by Stella’s Place, through which you can receive individual support from staff.

Your story will one day change someone else’s life. Going through a rough patch simply means you were made to be a storyteller and grow into a more powerful, influential individual than you could have ever imagined. Books have sequels, and your new chapter could start today.

The Blues women’s hockey road to the national championships

Veterans Kassie Roache and Meagan O’Brien reflect on their careers and more

The Blues women’s hockey road to the national championships

Though the Varsity Blues women’s hockey team settled for silver against the Guelph Gryphons in the McCaw Cup Final on March 9, that game wasn’t the end of their journey. The team had their eyes set on an even bigger prize: the 2019 U SPORTS national championship. It’s been 18 years since the Blues won the national championship. This year, the underdog Blues had looked to make some noise against the top-seeded Alberta Pandas while fifth-year forwards Kassie Roache and Meagan O’Brien had hoped to end their varsity careers with a national championship. Unfortunately, they fell short.

Roache and O’Brien credit their extensive athletic backgrounds as the key to their success. Roache started playing hockey at the age of four. “I started skating when I was about two, my parents made a rink in the backyard. And then I started officially playing hockey at age four,” Roache says. O’Brien peaked a little later in her career. “I was put in the Timbits hockey school program when I was seven years old. So that was the first time I ever geared up in my equipment,” O’Brien notes.

Coming from a big city, O’Brien’s earlier life in Brampton was substantially focused on academics and sports. “Throughout my high school career, I played basketball, volleyball, and flag football,” O’Brien says. “I was always trying to be keen on my academics, but I was never one to stay inside and read books.” Her family was also involved with sports. “On my mom’s side I think all the boys in the family played hockey, and then my uncle also played soccer, I think that’s where I got the love of being a goalie.”

Roache comes from a much smaller town. “I’m from Corunna, Ontario, which is a small town near Sarnia,” she says. Her distinctively small hometown gave her a reason to focus on playing sports when she was younger: “There’s maybe 5,000 people when I was growing up.” Growing up, baseball, lacrosse, and hockey were her favorite sports to pass the time. Roache isn’t the only athlete in her family, as her three sisters play hockey and lacrosse as well. “My middle sister Carly, she’s still playing lacrosse right now. They just won their provincial title last summer, so that’s pretty cool.”

O’Brien and Roache both are avid Maple Leafs fans and they grew up idolizing several Leafs players. “If you look at my closet, you can see about five different sizes of a Matt Sundin jersey because I just kept outgrowing it. So that was definitely my favourite player growing up,” O’Brien explains. “I really liked Curtis Joseph and Tie Domi,” Roache adds.

The pressure of playing for one of the top schools in Canada can add some serious weight to one’s shoulders, especially as a rookie. Roache notes that her experience in her first year was quite different from what she was used to.

“When I came in, I think I was one of two people that didn’t play junior, which is the highest level. So not playing at a pace that the other girls were used to, I felt like I was a step behind,” she says. O’Brien agrees with the difference in the overall atmosphere as well. “Especially coming from a team where you were just a senior and you know, probably the leading goal scorer. You come in and you’re like a little fish in a big pond all over again,” she says.

Although playing for a university was certainly different, O’Brien tried to make the best of it. “As a rookie on the team there was obviously pressure to try to keep a spot on the lineup, but we just always tried to constantly remind ourselves to enjoy every moment, even if it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, or if we weren’t getting the ice time we now get,” she explains.

Now both players are in their final year, and have gotten used to the intense schedule of a student athlete.

“It varies heavily, day to day. Some days I’m up at 6:00 am and we’ll go until 9:00 at night. Other days I won’t have anything until 10:00 am or noon, and then I’ll be going till 10:00 pm,” Roache says. She notes that her daily schedule can be hectic and spontaneous. “It’s very hard to be able to wake up at different times everyday.”

This schedule can be very time-consuming, especially for a full-time university student. “You’re always looking at a practice for sure, but some days we have up to three practices,” O’Brien adds. “Daily, we always have at least one practice, and sometimes a workout. And then weekends are games, always.”

Although daily routines can be stressful and busy, they try to make the best of it. “I’d say friends and family help a lot,” Roache says. “To just have people in your life that are there to support your goals and just to help out in any way possible, like send meals up, or bring groceries when they come… I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own, I don’t think.”

O’Brien stresses the importance of friends and family too. “I have the privilege of living not too far away from all of my family in Brampton, so on our days off I’ll try to go have dinner with my parents or my grandparents, or my baby sister… you know, just remind yourself that hockey and school aren’t everything,” she explains.

O’Brien acknowledges that student athletes aren’t necessarily ‘celebrities’ on campus. “You can tell that there’s part of the student population who have no idea about the sports that exist here,” she says. At times, however, O’Brien does have some experiences with fans. “I was at Mount Sinai, my teammate broke her wrist. Someone saw our hockey backpack and came up to us, shook our hands and congratulated us on our success.”

Both take the time to be regular students though. “If I need a break from studying, I’ll just pick up a guitar and start playing,” O’Brien says. Roache, like a lot of students, enjoys watching Netflix in her spare time.

The two players recognize the importance of having a family-like bond with their teammates. “I feel like without the support from teammates, sometimes you wouldn’t make it through your days,” Roache says.

“We’ve always got each other’s backs. And don’t get me wrong, you go through trials and tribulations together… But you celebrate your successes with them,” O’Brien adds.

Despite their closeness, their playing styles on the ice contrast each other. When asked to describe herself, Roache says, “As a player, I would say annoying. Gritty. I’m very aggressive.” O’Brien, on the other hand, plays a more cautious game. “I try to avoid getting penalties, and I’d say I’m like a grinder.”

Despite their varsity careers coming to an end, their love for the game will never change. “I think it just brings a lot of people together and you kind of have a common goal,” O’Brien says. “You have your fans and family that come out to watch you,” she adds. Roache acknowledges what hockey has done for her. “It helps you grow, [develop] leadership skills.”

Both players will be walking away from the game to see where the future takes them. “I’m currently waiting on results of certain applications, but as for my next plans I don’t really know exactly where I’ll end up. But I know I want to end up in medical school and hopefully become a doctor one day,” O’Brien says.

Roache is in a similar situation. “My plans are pretty undecided right now, but I think that one thing that I will always have as a goal for myself will be to just bring what I’ve learned and what I’ve developed over the last five years into my workplace… whether that be a workplace or another hockey team.”

At the end of the day, being able to put on that jersey and represent U of T carries a deeper meaning for varsity players. “It’s an honour and a privilege, and I think I’m just going to miss that student-athlete life and you know, being surrounded by the best teammates ever,” O’Brien says.

Where the Blue Jays currently stand at spring training

Will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. be Toronto’s next star?

Where the Blue Jays currently stand at spring training

Every year, mid-February signals the beginning of spring training for baseball season. In Arizona or Florida, players of all ranks meet to play lazy, unimportant games and warm up for the long season ahead. And with this start, every year without fail, baseball fans forget what spring training is actually about.

From Reddit and Twitter to the Facebook comments section of Sportsnet’s posts, every type of fan can be found complaining about plays so inconsequential that they swiftly escape our memory as soon as the first pitch of the new baseball season is thrown. Whether it is criticisms over a pitcher’s speed and velocity or a hitter’s lack of hustle after a ground ball, spring training elicits unusually pessimistic and overly-serious responses from fans, prompting the question: does spring training actually matter?

The short answer is no. The long answer is absolutely not. Spring training is nothing more than a glorified warm-up for old players and an introductory showcase for minor leaguers. Take the 2010 Cleveland Indians, for example. Although Cleveland won almost 70 per cent of their spring training games that year, they went on to finish the regular season barely winning 40 per cent.

Currently in the Florida Grapefruit League, the Toronto Blue Jays are barely toeing a 50 per cent record: they’ve won nine games and lost eleven. But that’s not important. The few takeaways from the Blue Jays’ spring training are important though, and all of them revolve around the minor league talent.

As has been the case ever since Toronto drafted him, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has generated the most buzz this spring — but unfortunately, not for the right reasons. Suffering a Grade 1 strain to his left oblique a couple weeks into training, Guerrero was taken out of the game for at least three weeks.

Let’s break down what this means. First, Guerrero will not be starting the season in the majors, as he has been reassigned to play for the minor league after recuperating. The Blue Jays’ front office is probably relieved about this. Because of the strict constraints and policies regarding service time — which dictate when a player reaches free agency — teams try to work around the rules so that their top prospects can remain under team control for as long as possible. This usually means keeping star prospects on minor league rosters longer than necessary, and bringing them up mid-season so that they gain an extra year of service time. This extra year of player control can make a difference of millions of dollars, and can also prolong the exit of a star player in his prime.

Such a move was almost inevitable for Guerrero: everyone anticipated the announcement that he would be beginning his season with Toronto’s minor league affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, instead of with the Jays at Rogers Centre. But Guerrero’s injury has freed the Jays’ front office from the ire of their already-disgruntled fanbase.

Spring training can give managers a good indication of how they will organize their order — who will bat lead-off? Who will bat clean-up? — and how they will position their outfield. But unless any significant injuries occur, spring training does little to predict the outcome of the regular season.

The baseball season is long and expansive: players reach peaks and lows and experience plateaus several times during the six months of play. To view spring training as anything other than a quick exhibition of up-and-coming minor league talent or a chance for seasoned players to warm up before the start of the gruelling season is naïve.

Marcus Stroman is the opening-day pitcher for the Jays. His first pitch on March 28 will start the baseball season for Toronto, and we’ll all just have to take it from there.

Blues women’s volleyball win Quigley Cup

Alina Dormann and Anna Feore lead Toronto to OUA championship

Blues women’s volleyball win Quigley Cup

Alina Dormann and Anna Feore did it again. For the third time in the past five seasons, the Varsity Blues women’s volleyball team hoisted the Quigley Cup, winning the 2018–2019 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championship 3–0 in straight sets over the defending U SPORTS national champions, the Ryerson Rams.

Despite the dominant play by Dormann and Feore, the championship win was a true team effort. The Blues entered the match victorious in eight straight contests, a streak dating back to January 27.

Ryerson opened the first set with an 11–6 advantage over Toronto, as the Blues committed four attack errors. Blues second-year setter Hayley Goodwin assisted on five of Toronto’s six straight kills to close the gap to 14–12. Goodwin finished the match with 39 assists, while Dormann led all players with 17 kills, and Feore tallied 10 kills and 3 blocks.

Feore launched a kill that levelled the score at 15–15 and her block on the Rams’ following play saw the Blues take the lead. Ryerson was unable to reclaim the lead, and Toronto pulled away to win the set 25–20.

Toronto jumped out to an early 7–3 lead in the second set before their momentum was stopped by a Rams timeout. Nevertheless, a barrage of kills from Feore and Dormann, and two service aces from Demetra Maragos propelled the Blues to a 12–5 lead before Ryerson called their second timeout of the set.

Ryerson bounced back to level the score 15–15 after Dormann made consecutive attack errors and Rams third-year outside hitter Cailin Wark earned a kill. The Blues regained after Wark committed a service error.

The Rams pulled to within one point at 21–20 following back-to-back kills by Theanna Vernon and Sara Piana, but the Blues earned three consecutive points and Dormann finished off the set with a kill for a 25–21 set victory.

The third and final set was a back-and-forth affair as the Rams played tight, uninterested in being swept in straight sets. But Toronto broke away from Ryerson midway through the set, earning three consecutive points with a service ace from Maragos bookended by two kills from Anna Feore, forcing Ryerson to take a timeout.

The Blues’ lead ballooned to 20–15, but the Rams fought back, pulling to within a single point at 21–20.

Ultimately, Toronto proved to be too much for Ryerson as Brett Hagarty was unable to return Dormann’s serve, earning the Blues the OUA Championship and bragging rights over rival Rams.

Next up, the Blues will contend for the U SPORTS national championship this weekend in Edmonton, Alberta. The Blues last won the national championship in 2016, capping an undefeated season and closing out Feore’s rookie one.

Blues women’s hockey take silver in McCaw Cup Final

Guelph Gryphons earn 4–2 victory to win OUA Championship

Blues women’s hockey take silver in McCaw Cup Final

In their first McCaw Cup Final in a decade, the Varsity Blues women’s hockey team fell short of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) title in a 4–2 loss against the Guelph Gryphons. Guelph hosted the final, after posting an OUA-best 16–4–2 record in the regular season.

Kassie Roache opened scoring for the Blues, receiving a well-timed pass from Kiyono Cox and wiring a slap shot into the top corner to give the Blues a 1–0 lead. The Gryphons didn’t answer back until there were five minutes left in the opening period; Mallory Young tipped a pass to Claire Merrick, who shot past Blues netminder Erica Fryer to level the score at 1–1.

Fryer was busy early and often in the first period as the Gryphons forced her to make seven saves. The rookie was well poised between the pipes, making 14 saves by the end of the second period and allowing just one goal from the highest-scoring offense in the OUA.

But the Gryphons outmatched the Blues in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals to pull away in a contest that had been otherwise level from the opening face-off.

Katie Mikkelsen’s power-play goal 31 seconds in saw Toronto’s one-goal lead evaporate. Kristen Jay put the Gryphons ahead 3–2, with Merrick scoring a late goal to end any hopes of a Blues comeback.

After a strong 60 minutes, the Gryphons lifted the McCaw Cup for the third time in the past four years.

Despite the loss, the Blues season continues next week as they head to Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island for the chance to capture a national title at the USPORTS National Championships.