The Varsity Blues streak came to an abrupt halt on Friday.
After going undefeated through the season’s opening six games, University of Toronto’s men’s hockey team suffered their first loss to the Windsor Lancer, 5-3.
And for the most part it was self-inflicted wounds that haunted the Varsity Blues.
“I thought for the first time we didn’t play 60 minutes of smart hockey,” said Toronto head coach Darren Lowe. “You’re not always going to play really well, [and] we just didn’t play smart and it cost us.”
A lot of their wounds came from unnecessary penalties, where they gave up two power play goals from a handful of calls.
However, going into the third period, the game was knotted at three.
That was until Brett Vandehogen snuck one by Toronto netminder Garrett Sheehan with two and a half minutes to play.
The Lancers forward was the beneficiary of a loose rebound that found him alone in front of the crease that he easily slid into a half empty net.
Although Toronto (5-1-1) came out on the wrong end of the decision, the Varsity Blues were in control at one point.
Up 2-1 in the second, it was a Windsor two man-advantage that actually worked in the favour of Toronto.
Michael Markovic was flying down the left side, he deked out Lancers goalie Parker Van Buskirk, and slid the backhand in behind Windsor netminder for the shorthanded goal, and a 3-1 lead.
Everything seemingly fell apart from there forToronto but it’s tough to blame Sheehan for the decision after he made 34 saves on 38 shots in the loss.
“They had a lot of chances in the first period and he kept us in the game, so I wouldn’t look at the goalie as be anything more than what he’s done for us all year, and that’s very well. I just think it was some mistakes in front of him that costs us,” said Lowe, of Sheehan.
A bunch of those mistakes came from the defence that couldn’t clear rebounds, or stop a Windsor power play which ranks first in the league with a 32.4 per cent success rate.
“For the first time our penalty kill got exploited and we didn’t do a very good job. We could see what they were doing and still got beat. Even after we told the guys what to look for,” said Lowe.
One of those times came in the second period on Steve Ferry’s goal.
With Toronto’s Marcus Yolevski in the box Lancers forward Drew Palmer threw a cross-ice to pass onto the stick of teammate Ferry, who was standing all alone at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, and he promptly put the puck behind a sliding Sheehan.
That goal drew Windsor to within a goal, but after that the Lancers seemed to have all of the momentum in the game that was finally decided on Vandehogen’s goal.
“They’re a good team. All of the team’s in this league are good and if you don’t come to play for 60 minutes you put yourself in peril of losing the game. And that’s what happened to us tonight,” said Lowe.
Luckily for the Varsity Blues they get their chance at revenge Saturday as Windsor returns to Toronto’s Varsity Arena for a rematch at 7:30 pm ET.