Emily Goodwin | Editor-in-Chief
Featured Image: Jack Goranson (left) and Kaleb Dahlgren (right) square off in the ceremonial puck drop prior to Friday’s game. | Courtesy of Mike Dahiroc/York Lions
The Lions hosted the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Friday night for their first game of the winter season.
This game has special meaning for the Lions. It honours the legacy of one of their former players, Mark Cross, who was one of 16 people who lost their lives in the bus crash carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team on April 6, 2018. A forward for the Lions from 2011-2016, Cross was serving his first season as an assistant coach to the Humboldt Broncos at the time of the crash that rocked the nation.
Prior to the game, a remembrance ceremony was held at center ice to honour Cross. His parents and some former Lions teammates were in attendance to present the Mark Cross Heart of a Lion Award. Receiving the 2020 honour was assistant captain Jack Goranson, a fourth-year defenceman. Goranson and teammate Kaleb Dahlgren, a survivor of the Humboldt bus crash and current member of the Lions hockey team, then squared off for the ceremonial puck drop.
To conclude the ceremony, those in attendance were asked to rise and face the end of the arena where Cross’ retired jersey #18 permanently rests, and to cheer for 18 seconds to celebrate the legacy Cross left behind at York.
When the game began, it took the Lions some time to find their groove. The Blues were able to score early due to a combined effort from David Thomson, Joey Manchurek, and Oliver Benwell, and led the Lions 1-0 for the remainder of the period.
After a hard-fought first half of the second period, the Blues were able to capitalize on back-to-back power plays and scored twice more. However, this time the Lions answered back with two of their own goals. Scott Feser scored with the assistance of Xavier Pouliot and Jeremy Lucchini in the 17th minute, and Brendan Browne followed up with his own thrilling goal less than two minutes later. Nic Corcic and Pouliot recorded assists on Browne’s goal.
Heading into the final period down by one, the Lions tried to desperately make up the deficit, but the Blues had other plans. The Blues scored two more times early in the period to widen the score to 6-2.
In an attempt to tie the score and to force overtime, the Lions pulled their goalie to put another player on the ice. This only partially worked out in their favour though. Brayden Buziak of the Lions was able to score on a mid-period power play with Lucchini assisting, but the Blues were also able to score from halfway down the rink on the unguarded Lions net. The game ended 6-3 in favour of the Blues.
The Lions did not fare any better when they took on the Western Mustangs the following night and lost to their opponents 9-4. Scoring for the Lions were Goranson, Dylan Riley, Justin Bean, and Peter De Coppi.
The Lions are now 5-13-1 for the regular season and sit at the bottom of the OUA West division. They will look to climb up the rankings when they take on Lakehead in a double-header next weekend at Canlan Ice Sports. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. respectively.