By Mikayla Guarasci
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s hockey team is ready to start a new chapter in their history. The team heads into the season under a new name, with a new logo and with a locker room full of fresh faces.
Head coach Lisa Haley, who has been the bench boss of the program since its inception in 2011, is excited about this new chapter, with high expectations for her team this season.
“We’ve been knocking on the door for a couple of years now,” said Haley. “My expectations for our group this year is to always move the needle forward.”
“We do have a lot of first-year players on our team, but we also have some great talented returning vets,” she added. “I think our goal every year is to try to get to nationals.”
The team ended the shortened 2021-22 campaign with a 6-8 record, finishing the regular season in third place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East Division. Their quest for the McCaw Cup was short-lived, with a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the eventual nationals finalist, the Nipissing Lakers.
“We’ve been knocking on the door for a couple of years now”
TMU finished this year’s six pre-season games with a 3-3 record. This includes their homecoming loss against Concordia and most recently, a 2-1 win over Carleton University on Oct. 13.
They’re looking ahead to a full OUA season, without any pandemic interruptions for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
A major change for the Bold will be in net. The team said goodbye to fifth-year goaltender Rachel Seeley, who started all 15 games last season. The 2021-22 team MVP holds the record for most career appearances, wins and saves by a goaltender in program history.
Replacing Seeley is a trio, made up by second-year Jayden Lawson and first-years Lauren Griffin and Alexia Stratos.
“We’ve got some young goaltending, but it’s been promising,” said Haley. “We’ve seen all three of them in game action now and are pretty encouraged with their level of readiness to be playing in the OUA.”
Haley noted that the team will need to find new ways to score after the graduation of star player Lauren Nicholson. She is the program’s all-time leading goal scorer with 44 career goals, so other players will need to step in to fill the loss.
“It’s nice to have leaders to show you the way and pave the path for you”
The team has a mix of experienced veterans and rookies, with nine new players joining the Bold. This group of recruits includes fifth-year Dani Fox, who comes from the University of Connecticut Huskies, part of the National Collegiate Athletics Association. The Unionville, Ont. native scored 10 goals and added 14 assists for 24 points in 37 games with the Huskies last season. She comes to the Bold with over 130 games played at the university level and will spend one final year with TMU while completing her master’s of business administration.
“Anybody that’s already got three or four years of experience at this level is so valuable. She brings great character to our group and a high level of maturity and intelligence,” said Haley. Bold forward Britni Yammine also has high hopes for the TMU squad heading into her rookie season.
“I think we have a pretty strong group,” said Yammine. “We’re a well-rounded hockey team, I expect us to go to championships—that’s obviously the end goal—and possibly nationals.”
The team will rely on vets such as team captain Madison Lalonde, Olivia Giardetti and Brooklyn Gemmill to lead the way on and off the ice.
“It’s nice to have leaders to show you the way and to pave the path for you,” said Yammine. “They’ve been a super big help and I know they’ll continue to do so as we move on in the season.”
The team will kick off the regular season on Oct. 20 against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks in Waterloo, Ont. They’ll return home for a rematch of last year’s playoffs on Oct. 22 against the Nipissing Lakers in their home opener.
“It’s a new chapter in our legacy,” said Haley. “We’re just excited to rep the TMU Bold, all that can bring and write some new history moments under that brand.”