SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR VIDEO HIGHLIGHT REEL.
Jan. 23 was a big day for many of Upper Canada College’s cold weather sports teams with the marking of the school’s annual Winterfest.
Things began in the pool with a Prep and U14 exhibition swim meet involving UCC boys and their peers from Sterling Hall School and Crescent School. There was nothing at stake but pride, but the competitors used the opportunity to further hone their skills and enjoy some time in the warm water as opposed to facing the icy conditions outside.
Five U10 and U13 basketball teams from UCC’s Prep School took over all three of the College’s gyms from 2 to 3 p.m. for games against Sterling Hall and Crescent. The boys are still in early stages of skill development but what they lacked in mastering the nuances of the game was made up for by their enthusiasm.
The U11 and U12B basketball teams took to the courts at 3 p.m. while Upper School students gathered in Laidlaw Hall for a spirit assembly. Mascot Cookie sat in his throne to oversee the event, which included news, student videos, a unique frozen T-shirt competition, and the presentation of a hockey jersey to incoming principal Sam McKinney.
The event was held to get the boys pumped up to cheer at the late afternoon and evening games but, judging by the steady stream of chanting, hollering and banging of pews, they were already primed.
UCC’s U14 Grade 7 and Grade 8 hockey teams squared off in the Mara Rink at the William P. Wilder ’40 Arena & Sports Complex at 3:30 p.m.
One of Winterfest’s two marquee events, the varsity basketball game, pitted the home side against the St. Andrew’s College (SAC) Saints at 4 p.m. Not a peep was heard from UCC fans as part of the “Silent Night” strategy that came to a crashing halt when the crowd exploded after the Blues scored their second basket.
The Blues played stifling defence and went into halftime with a 33-11 lead. The intermission was used for a paper airplane contest where the student with the furthest flight was rewarded with two Toronto Raptors tickets. The Blues kept the pressure on the Saints in the second half and enjoyed a comfortable win.
Some of that comfort may have come from the newly renovated varsity locker rooms that had a makeover thanks to many generous donations from the UCC community.
The U14 basketball team took on SAC in the old Upper School gym and dominated the game. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the junior varsity hoops team, which closed its deficit versus Villanova College to five points at the end of the third quarter before being steamrolled in the final frame.
Mara Rink was used for a family skate from 6 to 7 p.m. before the opening ceremonies for the penultimate Winterfest event, a varsity hockey game between UCC and Nichols School from Buffalo, N.Y. Principal Jim Power led two Prep students to centre ice and the trio led the crowd in singing “O Canada.” McKinney was still attired in his hockey jersey when he joined board of governors chair Russ Higgins ’81 for the ceremonial first puck drop.
The first period was a tight-checking affair with Nichols carrying the play a bit, but neither team generated particularly good scoring chances and no goals were registered. The Ice Chips, two teams of very young players giving their best efforts, managed to slip a couple of goals past the tenders in a free-for-all scrimmage during the first intermission.
UCC opened the scoring 22 seconds into the second period, but Nichols tied things up about 10 minutes later on somewhat of a fluke goal as a breakaway shot went off the back glass and bounced back in front of the net to an awaiting Nichols player for a tap-in.
The game’s first penalties didn’t come until there were 90 seconds left in the second period when a UCC player was put in the box. A goal mouth scramble and some chippiness about a minute later resulted in players for both teams sitting off and Nichols being awarded a penalty shot. UCC goalie Colby Muise stopped it and made another big save just before the end of the period.
A full-contact goalie race with four student contestants provided the intermission levity before the third period got underway. The teams were pretty evenly matched, but UCC took advantage of some chaos around the Nichols goal to score the go-ahead goal with 2:49 left. Nichols pulled its goalie in a last-ditch effort to get the equalizer, but Muise remained as solid as he had been throughout the entire game to preserve the Blues’ 2-1 victory.
Here’s a video highlight reel, followed by a rundown of all of the Winterfest scores:
UCC 38 Sterling Hall 22
UCC 22 Sterling Hall 12
Sterling Hall 31 UCC 30
UCC 42 Sterling Hall 32
The York School 40 UCC 26
Crescent 43 UCC 40
UCC 38 SAC 18
Junior varsity basketball
Villanova 58 UCC 38
UCC 81 SAC 32
UCC Grade 8 3 UCC Grade 7 3
UCC 2 Nichols 1