By Alex Wauthy
The scoring woes carried on for the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s hockey team as they lost their seventh straight game, falling 3-2 against the Western Mustangs on Saturday afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
Despite their loss, the women’s team continued the Pride Weekend festivities at the MAC. Many players donned pride tape on their sticks, including fourth-year forward and team captain Emily Baxter.
“I think sports in the past haven’t been very inclusive,” Baxter said. “On our team especially, we try to be as inclusive as possible, so it was really great to be a part of a night like that and just be inclusive with the team and community.”
The Mustangs dominated out of the gate in the first period. They pressed early, hustled to pucks, worked the boards and forced defensive zone turnovers. Ultimately, their effort paid off.
Third-year forward Avry Pedersen got the puck to first-year forward Reese Whiteman, who skated from the right hashmark to the slot and fired a low-contested wrist shot past first-year goaltender Shannon Harris less than three minutes into the first period.
Western double-downed moments later. Pedersen fired a wrist shot from the point and Harris couldn’t cover the loose puck with her blocker. First-year forward Janique LaBossiere beat Harris to the rebound and tucked the puck in TMU’s net for her first goal of the season. With just a little over five minutes into the game, the Mustangs held a 2-0 lead.
“They had a long road trip last night from Nipissing and to come in here and somehow we’re down 2-0 on the scoreboard in the comforts of our home,” Bold head coach Lisa Haley said. “It’s not an acceptable standard to be soft like that. It was an opportunity to get off to a fast start, and we didn’t.”
TMU began getting shots and deflections on the net, but a tripping penalty to third-year forward Payton Kerr sent Western to the power play midway through the period. This was the first of three penalties the Bold took in the first frame.
“You just have to get through it,” Harris said. “Shit happens, you just have to push.”
Their third penalty came with just over one minute remaining in the period. They held the Mustangs off the scoreboard in the final minute, meaning Western would start the second on the power play.
“In the changing room, we got into a bit of trouble for taking so many penalties,” Harris said. “So we definitely had to clean that up because you can’t create much offence when you’re one man short.”
However, coach Haley had a different perspective.
“Didn’t really talk about it too much,” Haley said. “ Honestly, it wasn’t a focus between periods for me. It was how we were defending and not being gritty.”
Despite starting the second on the penalty kill, TMU’s captain went to work. Baxter streaked into the Mustangs’ end and fired a shot from the red line. The puck deflected off a Mustang defender in front of the net and trickled through first-year goaltender Brooke Vaccari’s five-hole, bringing the Bold within one on a shorthanded marker.
With under half the period remaining, the Mustangs cycled the puck in the offensive zone. First-year Western defender Arnica Bulmer sent a pass along the blue line to first-year defender Kate Martin.
Martin walked in and sent a shot-pass to Whiteman for an easy tap-in, restoring Western’s two-goal lead.
TMU had a flurry of chances near the end of the period, but Vaccari stood firm and Western took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
Western sent TMU to the man-advantage halfway through the third period following a cross-checking penalty to third-year defender Gabrielle Lehoux. The Bold made quick work of the power play. First-year forward Neely Van Volsen pounced on a rebound and slid the puck under Vaccari’s pads, cutting the Mustangs’ lead to one with under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
With less than two minutes remaining, the Mustangs sent the Bold to the power play. Seconds later, Lehoux took a tripping penalty, giving TMU a five-on-three power play. With the goalie pulled, the Bold threw everything on the net, but Vaccari shut the door.
Despite a 36-save performance from Harris, TMU couldn’t find the equalizer. With the loss, the Bold’s record drops to 1-10-0 on the season.
“I came up with a few big saves there,” Harris said. “I was hoping it could spark something and we got it to a one-goal game, but unfortunately, we couldn’t bury that last one.”
UP NEXT: The TMU Bold host their cross-city rivals on Nov. 23 at the MAC as they take on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues—puck drop is slated for 6:00 p.m.