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TMU women's hockey team flies by their bench and fist bumps their team after a goal
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TMU earn first win of season with shutout of Ridgebacks

By Mitchell Fox

Fourth-year forward and team captain Emily Baxter led the way as the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s hockey team came out on top in a battle of two winless teams on Friday, defeating the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks 4-0 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).

Baxter had two goals in the game, one in each of the first two periods. Those goals were enough to keep the Bold in control of the game from early on, eventually resulting in a shutout for second-year goaltender Lauren Griffin. 

“You got to see what we mean by [her being a leader] on the ice tonight,” said head coach Lisa Haley. “Every situation that we put her in, she was successful.”

The Bold entered their home opener having lost their first three games. Taking on a Ridgebacks team with a 0-4 record that had also played the night before, the Bold saw an opportunity to get into the win column.

Griffin said though the squad has struggled with starting strong in the past, TMU was ready to play on Friday, adding it felt like they could have scored more in the first period. 

“I think we came out flying,” they said. “We all wanted it.”

Baxter opened the scoring for the Bold just four minutes into the game. The fourth-year forward took a centring pass from third-year forward Brooke Michaud and deposited a fiery snapshot into the top corner. 

“We needed that win”

Though the Ridgebacks were able to generate a few chances out of the neutral zone, they mostly struggled to get into the slot area and hit the net. Griffin said their team did a good job of not giving their opponents many chances.

“24 saves, sure. But that’s a team effort,” they said. “Goals against and save percentage [are] team stats, not just me.”

Still, Haley said she was proud that Griffin went the full distance to ensure the Bold secured the victory. 

“By the third time third period came around, I mean, they made so many big saves that you just feel like the next one is almost automatic,” she said.

A different part of the scoresheet could have presented an issue for the Bold but did not. The team took five penalties to the Ridgebacks’ two. Killing them off and scoring a goal just after a Ridgebacks penalty ended meant the Bold won the special teams battle. 

Haley said she is knocking on wood when it comes to keeping the penalty kill as strong as it has been to start the season.

“I like our forecheck the best. I think we still have a few things to sort out in-zone, but we’re certainly getting the job done,” she said. 

Their greatest adversity in the game was a five-on-three powerplay for the Ridgebacks mid-way through the second period. The Bold got through it unscathed, keeping Ontario Tech to the outside while Griffin did their job in goal. 

Baxter said the penalty kill is something the team has worked on a lot in practice, so getting through some penalty trouble was a good note. 

“Fighting those off were huge momentum shifts for us,” she added.

The Bold surged toward the end of the second period. With four forwards on the ice just after a Ridgebacks penalty ended, Baxter scored her second goal of the night, a tap-in to finish a swift tic-tac-toe passing play with third-year forward Cailey Davis and second-year forward Gaby Gareau. 

“Both goals [I scored] were kind of cupcakes in the slot,” said Baxter. “[I] just had to bury them.” 

Griffin added, saying Davis’ pass was their favourite play of the day.

“Watching that from the other end, I was like, ‘I cannot believe they just pulled that off,’” said the netminder. 

“Both goals [I scored] were kind of cupcakes in the slot”

In the final frame, first-year forward Megan Bergmanis scored her first goal of the season, while fourth-year forward Mia Morano added a goal on a penalty shot. The Bold’s depth was important, as all of their forward lines were able to catch the Ridgebacks on tired heels. 

“I think it builds a lot of confidence in all of us that it doesn’t matter who it is, you can go out there and get the job done,” said Haley.

The team showed growth from past games on Friday. Haley said a slow start cost the team against the Nipissing Lakers in their season opener, while it was tough to come away from a good performance against the Windsor Lancers with no points.

“We’ve been searching to play 60 minutes together,” Haley said. “[Tonight] was a good example of it.”

Griffin said things were “boiling over” towards the end of the game, as the team was eager to turn their upward momentum into a win.

“It felt like as a team, we needed to like close that out. We needed that win,” they said. “We needed to lay it all out there. And we did.”

UP NEXT: The Bold search for their second straight win on Saturday against the Guelph Gryphons at the MAC. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.

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