Bold edge Lions for victory in last home game of semester

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By Dexter LeRuez

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s hockey team scrapped out a 3-2 victory over the York Lions on Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC). 

First-year forward Connor Bowie was TMU’s hero in the afternoon, putting the team ahead with 14 seconds left in the game.

But before that, the Bold came out strong in the first period in large part due to second-year forward Chris Playfair, who scored his third and fourth goals of the season 1:18 and 4:07 into the game.

“He’s such a smart player,” said Bold head coach Johnny Duco. “He’s been a little bit snake-bitten this year. Game-in, game-out, we are like ‘Wow that was great.’ He does everything right, but the offence just hasn’t come.”

On the draw after Playfair’s second goal, the second-year crosschecked York’s centre, an act that sent him to the penalty box for two minutes.

“That centreman on a few faceoffs—he was just trying to drive his head into mine” said Playfair. “I wasn’t just gonna let it slide so I gave him a little crosscheck, I talked to the ref afterwards and he said that he felt I gave a little more than I should have.” 

Fortunately for the Bold, their penalty kill managed to hold on while Playfair was in the box—unsurprising given how strong the Bold’s shorthanded unit has been this year. 

“It’s a huge momentum boost,” said Duco. “Anytime that you can take a penalty and kill it off and feel confident to play fast, physical hockey. 

The Lions failed to find much in the way of scoring opportunities in the first frame. But in the second period, the scoring chances started to appear for the visitors as they outshot the Bold 18-10 in the second frame.

York forward CJ Clarke gave the Lions their first goal of the game with under five minutes to play in the second period. One of the biggest factors contributing towards York’s resurgence was their physicality. 

“They’re a big team, especially their blue line,” said Playfair. “When they start hitting the way they do, it makes them tougher to play. But then the onus is just on us to get our feet going and start chipping pucks around when they try to step up and hit us. “

TMU’s ineffectiveness on the powerplay also helped the physicality of the Lions. The Bold had three powerplay opportunities in the game and failed to capitalize on any of them. 

“Our powerplay has been clicking, I think we are at like 33 per cent top in all of U Sports,” said Duco. “I thought the [Ryan] Wells unit had control of the puck the entire time and some really good movement and we just weren’t able to pull the trigger.” 

The Bold’s lack of scoring seemed like it would cost them as York first-year Thomas Lacombe tied the game up at two with less than two minutes remaining in the third frame. However, overtime wasn’t needed for the Bold as Bowie played hero, beating York’s defenders to score a buzzer-beater goal.  

“We looked at some video before the game,” said Bowie. “We recognized that maybe with our speed we could burn those defenders there and I just got that pass and saw I had a step on him and so I just took him wide and buried it.”

Saturday’s win is the Bold’s second in a row at a crucial time during their season. Next weekend the Bold head to Windsor, Ont., for two games against the University of Windsor Lancers who are neck-and-neck with TMU for the lead of the Ontario University Athletics West Division. 

“I’m excited for it,” said Playfair. “The one thing with our team is that we play better against the top teams so, I think we will be ready for it, we will have a good week of practice and show everybody that we deserve to be first in the league.”

UP NEXT: The Bold will head to Windsor, Ont., to take on the University of Windsor Lancers on Dec. 3. Puck-drop is set for 7:30 p.m.

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