The University of Toronto Varsity Blues celebrate their win.

Varsity Blues pick up first win of the season

University of Toronto bounces back from tough loss on Friday to beat Concordia

Russell Turner had two goals and one assist as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the Concordia University Stingers 6-2 Saturday night in men’s OUA action.

This was U. of T.’s second game in as many nights and Turner could see improvement in his game.

“It feels really good,” said Turner. “Maybe yesterday I was just gripping the stick a little too tight, but today it just felt natural.”

Toronto opened its season Friday against the Universite du Quebec a Trois Rivieres with a 10-5 loss. Special teams proved costly in that game as UQTR scored four times on the power play and once short handed.

Saturday night, the Varsity Blues (1-1) looked like a different team.

“After last night’s game and being up early and not being able to close it out,” said Darren Lowe, the U of T Head Coach, “it was a nice feeling to come back out here tonight and get a win.”

This game was about playing catch up in the early going as Concordia’s Frederic Roy went roof just 43 seconds into the game. Alexandros Sourmakis would add a second goal in the first to cap the scoring for the Stingers (1-1).

The Varsity Blues would tie the game at two just 21 seconds into the middle frame, before taking the lead just over a minute later on a goal by Andrew Doyle. Concordia outshot Toronto 11-4, but Michael Nishi was outstanding in the Varsity net.

“He did unbelievable tonight,” said Turner. “We needed him to step up big tonight after a bit of a poor effort by our full team yesterday and he stepped up and did the job perfectly.”

Nishi’s job would only get more difficult as the game went on, as the Varsity Blues would once again find themselves in penalty trouble in the third. Over the last 10 minutes of the game, U. of T. was called for four 2-minute minors and one misconduct.

With 4:34 left and one Varsity player in the box, Concordia pulled their goalie before U. of T. was called for another penalty. This set up a 6-on-3 situation for the next 56 seconds.

Instead of cutting into the at this point 5-2 lead, the Stingers gave the puck to Doyle, who broke out down the middle of the ice from his own blue line and buried it in the empty net.

“We just got each other’s backs and when we get a PK, we go out there and battle our butts off,” said Turner. “That is how we win hockey games.”

Scoring also helps to get victories and the 2015-16 Varsity Blues have proven they can score, putting up 11 goals in two games. In total, 13 different players have recorded points this season, a good sign for a team that had a lot of turnover from last year.

“It is great that we have offence with so many young players, we lost 10 guys last year so that is impressive,” said Lowe. “Defensively we need to tighten up a little bit but it was good to score that many goals.”

Next up for the Varsity Blues is a trip to Waterloo to face the Warriors on Oct. 16, before coming home on Oct. 17 to face Wilfrid Laurier at Varsity Arena.