The Varsity Blues celebrate their shootout win over the Gaels

Varsity Blues nip Gaels in women’s hockey shootout

Queen's has a history of close games with U. of T.

Valencia Yordanov made 24 saves and Taylor Day scored the lone goal of the shootout as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues beat the Queen’s University Gaels 2-1 on Friday night in OUA action at Varsity Arena.

This was the third straight meeting between U. of T. and Queen’s that ended as a 2-1 final, dating back to October 2014. That first game was a regulation win for the Gaels before the Varsity Blues took the next two in overtime.

“They have a very great team, they are quick, they’re very well coached and very shift it just seems like they are coming after you and we knew that,” said Vicky Sunohara, head coach of the Varsity Blues. “They forecheck well, they have some great shooters, it is always a great game when you play Queen’s, it is a healthy rivalry that is for sure, we always know they are going to be good.”

The Gaels (2-0-1) struck first, finally getting one past U. of T. netminder Yordanov 45 seconds into the third period. Queen’s had solid chances all game, but the rookie goalie was there to stop them including on a penalty shot in the first.

Yordanov, Varsity Blues Athlete of the Week, made 24 saves to keep her club (3-0) in the game, especially during a penalty kill during the second overtime period.

“She is very calm and confident, she is doing everything she needs to give us an opportunity to win (and) that is all we can ask, especially coming in her very first season she is doing some great things,” said Sunohara.

“We’ve got Katey [Teekasigh] who has been very helpful and very positive and ready to go at any time, and Hailey [Farrelly] has played and done well, but it is hard to change things up when you are winning.”

On the other side of the ice, Queen’s fifth year goalie Caitlyn Lahonen shut the door on the Varsity Blues until there was under four minutes left in the game. Sonja Weidenfelder got the puck from captain Kristi Riseley off a draw in front of the Gael’s bench, quickly gained the zone and beat the netminder to tie the game at one.

Similar to the NHL switching to 3-on-3 overtime this season, the CIS has made changes to its overtime rules in an effort to avoid shootouts. First, there is five minutes of 4-on-4, then four minutes of 3-on-3, and finally if the puck still hasn’t found the back of the net, a shootout.

Given the goaltending battle that had been going on all game, even a penalty during the 3-on-3 overtime didn’t help solve the game sending this to a shootout.

“We also killed a penalty in the 3-on-3,” said Sunohara. “Exciting, but I would rather just win in regulation.”

U of T gets another chance to win in regulation very shortly as their home opening weekend continues Saturday at 4 p.m. against The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks. They are also undefeated, coming off their own shootout win versus the Ryerson Rams on Friday.

“UOIT is another team is another team that we have had trouble with in the past, they are always a strong team,” said Sunohara. “Get some rest, come back, it’s one more game and then they have two days off, so we feel like every game is important, every shift is important so that is how we have to play it.”