Very little separated these two teams in the standings heading into the game. After Thursday night's contest, it ends up there is not much that separates them on the ice either. The Gryphons women's hockey team edged the Toronto Varsity Blues 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday night at the Gryphon Centre. First year winger Kaitlin Lowy (Toronto, ON) scored the shootout winner in the seventh round as the Gryphons improved to 11-2-2 on the season, while the Varsity Blues fall to 10-4-2.
Despite the fact that the Gryphons only managed three shots in the opening 15 minutes of the game, they had the best chance to open the scoring. Alana Sims (Whitby, ON) had a great chance to jam the puck home during a scramble in front of the Varsity Blues net but could not get the Gryphons on the board. The first period ended scoreless with both teams looking sharp on the penalty kill.
The first goal of the game would come with three minutes left in the second period. Highly touted Gryphon rookie Mackenzie Wong(Surrey, BC) would finish off a two-on-one with Alana Sims as the Gryphons took a 1-0 lead to the third period.
Early on in the third, the Varsity Blues would finally solve Stephanie Nehring (Oshawa, ON) as a centering pass from behind the Gryphons net would find Lauren Straatman (Thorndale, ON) who would fire the puck into the back of the net to tie the game at ones. Both teams would exchange scoring chances from there, in what as an end-to-end third period. With so much on the line in terms of standings and playoff positioning, emotions were also running high as the game turned chippy at times. The Varsity Blues would end up taking a big penalty with two minutes left in the game, as April Looije (Mississauga, ON) was called for tripping, but the Gryphons were unable to find the winner and overtime would be needed at the Gryphon Centre.
The Gryphons would control the game in overtime, spending most of the extra frame in U of T's end of the ice. However, the Varsity Blues received some solid goaltending from fifth year netminder Nicole Kesteris (Aurora, ON) who kept the score locked at 1-1, meaning a winner would be determined in a shootout.
U of T started out hot in the shootout, with each of their first two shooters finding the back of the net, including a gorgeous goal from Kristi Riseley (Pickering, ON). That meant that the game came down to Gryphon All-Star Jessica Pinkerton. Needing to score to extend the shootout to another round, Pinkerton (Oshawa, ON) would come through with a nice deke before sliding it home to keep the Gryphons alive. Each of the next six shooters would fail to score, but that is not to say they did not come close. The first shooter of the sixth round, U of T rookie forward Kassandra Roache (Corunna, ON), would fire a shot that would trickle past Nehring, before coming to a complete stop right on the goaline. At that point, you had a feeling it was the Gryphons' night. In the end, it would be a Toronto native that would win it for the Gryphons against U of T, as first year standout Kaitlin Lowy would fire a beautiful shot high blocker side to seal the win for the Gryphons in the seventh round.
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