A last minute change before the season started has paid immediate dividends for University of Toronto’s men’s hockey team.
Prior to the first game, OHL alumni Jeff Brown was placed together with linemates Bobby Blake and Tyler Liukkonen, and they’re off to a torrid start to begin the year.
And it continued on Thursday afternoon at Varsity Arena versus the opposing Ryerson Rams.
The line combined for 5 points, as the Varsity Blues defeated the Rams 3-2 in front of 3,000 TDSB school kids on Hockey Day in Toronto.
“We just thought that if we added one piece to that group (Blake and Liukkonen) they’d be a real force to reckon with. And Brown’s done a real good job so far,” said Toronto head coach Darren Lowe, after the game.
Despite the B-B-L line’s good game, it was rookie Andrew Doyle who had the winning-goal early in the third period for Toronto (4-0-1).
Doyle found himself all alone with a wide open net, after a deflected puck on a shot attempt from teammate Charlie Macdonald wound up on his stick.
Rams goaltender Troy Passingham had already made his move to stop Macdonald’s shot leaving Doyle open for the easy goal.
Passingham, however, was solid in net for the Rams (2-3) despite the loss. He turned away 39 shots in the losing effort.
The game didn’t begin well for the Rams netminder as the Bobby, Brown, and Liukkonen line struck early in the first period to give the Blues a quick 1-0 lead.
After applying pressure all game, and hitting Rams goaltender Troy Passingham with a barrage of shots, Toronto allowed a streaking Daniel Lombardi to cut to the net for a glorious opportunity.
The Rams Lombardi was unable to score, but Victor Terreri scooped up the rebound and into the gaping net to tie the game late in the first period 1-1.
However, it wasn’t until early in the second when the momentum swayed decidedly towards the Rams favour.
Toronto’s Cassidy Preston, the fifth year player from North Bay, Ont., appeared to score the go ahead goal in the first moments of the second period when a cross net passing attempt hit a Rams’ defender’s stick and promptly found itself behind the right shoulder of Passingham.
However, after a brief discussion, the refs waved off the goal, insisting that it hit a post, and not the actual twine of the net.
Then before the Varsity Blues coaching staff could settle their nerves, Lombardi struck for his first goal of the night on a nifty deke around Toronto netminder Garrett Sheehan and into the open net for a 2-1 lead.
“The one positive out of the whole thing is that it didn’t cost us the game… [but] it certainly changed the momentum of the game for a little bit there,” said Lowe.
The Varsity Blues finally regained their composure and tied the game on a powerplay goal by Liukkonen.
Toronto controlled the game from that point forward.
Even a late power play with Passingham on the bench for the sixth attacker wasn’t enough to allow Ryerson to tie the game.
The Blues will defend their undefeated record against Nippissing tomorrow at 7 ET.