Toronto Metropolitan University's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967

The TMU Bold men's hockey team huddle and celebrate an overtime winning goal
(MATTHEW LIN/The Eyeopener)
All Sports

Bold men’s hockey eager and excited to make HOCO a hit

By Sam Beaudoin

While Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) students usually enter the campus store in search of an overpriced textbook for their new class, on Sept. 22 they will flood it with hopes of upgrading their TMU wardrobe ahead of one of the school’s biggest events of the year: Homecoming (HOCO). 

The campus will be filled with school spirit as hoards of students will be seen marching down Church Street towards the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) to cheer on the men’s hockey team. 

In a year where they’ll host the country’s best hockey programs at the national tournament in the spring, the team first have their sights set on HOCO when they will take on the McGill Redbirds. 

Despite the matchup being an exhibition game, members of the team have had the date circled on their calendars for months and are incredibly eager to hit the ice in front of their TMU community.

“From a player’s perspective, it creates more excitement, helps you dial in a little bit more and get ready to put on a show,” said second-year forward Connor Bowie. 

The festivities are slated to kick off at 3 p.m. with a pregame tailgate being held in Pitman Quad and the highly anticipated unveiling of the TMU Bold mascot just before puck drop at 6 p.m. 

“It creates more excitement, helps you dial it in more and get ready to put on a show”

This marks the first time since 2019 that the men’s hockey team have hosted the annual homecoming game. With nationals just months away, the electric atmosphere will just be a preview of what’s to come down the road. 

The two squads are set to meet again for the first time since the 2021-22 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze medal game—in which TMU came away victorious to move on to nationals.

“I think both sides will learn something about each other, some of that will be useful in the regular season and some of it won’t,” said TMU head coach Johnny Duco. 

While the regular season is not slated to kick off until two weeks after HOCO, members of the team stand unanimous that they are not disappointed that HOCO is an exhibition game. 

“Everyone elevates their game when you have a big crowd like that,” said third-year TMU forward Kevin Gursoy. “It’s a crowd full of people you go to class with, it’ll be pretty fun to play in front of them.”

With many preseason games scheduled in the month of September, players admitted the games can get a little dry, especially without many fans in the stands to cheer them on.

As a result of the event, HOCO provides a massive amount of excitement for the players. It breaks up what can be a very mundane stretch of preseason games, while also preparing them for regular season play.

“Sometimes, exhibition games can be long and gruelling. Having something in there that excites the guys that replicates the regular season environment is a nice touch,” said Duco.

The team views HOCO as an opportunity to display the high level of hockey that the OUA has in store in hopes of attracting more spectators throughout the remainder of the year. 

“There’s a lot of buzz, belief and excitement from all the boys”

Despite TMU being a nationally ranked squad at times in recent years, they have struggled to attract student support. The Bold often find themselves playing in front of a fairly empty MAC. 

The team urges the student body to come and support them on Sept. 22. Ideally for the Bold, the support carries throughout the entire year as they embark on their mission to lift the David Johnston University Cup on home ice at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens—now the MAC—in the spring.

“All of the players and coaches put a huge emphasis on this game and view it as something that can bring fans back,” said Bowie. 

HOCO kicks off what will be a very intriguing year for the Bold on the ice, coming off a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues last winter.

With 21 returning players, four transfers and a handful of new recruits, the depth chart appears to be one that can make some noise in the OUA.

In second-year netminder Kai Edmonds, TMU arguably has one of the best goaltenders in the country. Alongside last season’s OUA top point-per-game player in third-year forward Kyle Bollers, the two players figure to play enormous roles in determining how deep the Bold can go in their chase to win nationals.

“Hopefully, all of that experience can help us get on a run that’ll put us in the history books”

The team is not satisfied with receiving an automatic berth in nationals and is approaching the season with the mindset of proving they belong. 

“There’s a lot of buzz, belief and excitement from all the boys that we can actually do this,” said Bowie. “It’s going to be a special year, we’re gonna have our challenges but there’s definitely a lot of belief in the room.”

The gruelling journey for the Bold this season is set to kick-off with a party at HOCO. With nationals looming at the end of the tunnel, this is only the beginning of what appears to be a thrilling and interesting year for TMU. 

“We’re all very excited. The team this year is a little bit older, a little bit deeper than teams in the past,” added Gursoy. “Hopefully, all of that experience can help us get on a run that’ll put us in the history books.”

Leave a Reply