By Adriana Fallico
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s hockey team fell 3-1 to the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) in their annual Teddy Bear Toss game.
With this loss, the Bold suffered their first defeat at home this season and their five-game win streak has been snapped.
“To be honest I didn’t love our game. Our top players need to be a lot better than they were today,” said Bold head coach Johnny Duco. “I thought our effort needs to be a lot better collectively.”
“At the end of the 60 minutes, I think we got what we deserved,” Duco said.
Second-year Varsity Blues forward Jacob King opened the scoring late in the first period. King squeaked the puck past Bold netminder Kai Edmonds’ five-hole with a wraparound.
Nearly halfway through the second period, TMU broke even. Fourth-year forward Carson Gallagher scored his third goal of the season thanks to a slick pass from second-year forward Ian Martin, tying the game at one apiece.
The TMU crowd has more to celebrate with the equalizer. Immediately after Gallagher’s goal, dozens of teddy bears rained down onto the ice—capturing a sweet distraction from gameplay.
“It was great, I think that was my third teddy bear toss goal. I love scoring on these nights,” Gallager said. “It’s a big goal [and] it goes towards a good cause…it’s always an anticipated goal so it’s always nice to get that one.”
Physicality was a major theme throughout the game as both teams threw their bodies at each other to gain momentum. But it was clear that the Varsity Blues had the advantage.
Third-year forward Elijah Roberts identified physicality as “key” for the Bold heading into the game.
“Anytime we play U of T there’s going to be lots of hits and it’s going to be physical,” Roberts said. “I think we got up and knew it was going to be that type of game and I think we responded well.”
Duco agreed with Roberts’ judgment of the game’s level of physicality but didn’t believe that TMU initiated the contact.
“I don’t think we shied away from it in any regard, but…we allowed them at times to set the tone physically,” Duco said.
There was a time when physicality was met with controversy. With a little more than two minutes left to go in the frame, third-year forward Aleks Dimovski was high-sticked in the corner. Although he left the ice bleeding, there was no call on the play from the referees.
Shortly after, second-year Varsity Blues forward Nicholas Wong took a stick to the face from Roberts, resulting in a four-minute double-minor for high sticking heading into the final frame.
“I think [Dimovski] did get hit and when he came back to the bench we knew he got hit, I think it was an opportunity where it should have been called, but that’s just the way the game goes,” Roberts said.
Despite the Bold killing the penalty, Duco said the sequence was “frustrating” for the team.
“We were confused about how it all transpired. At the end of the day, you cannot control the officiating but it was a tough one for sure,” he said.
Duco acknowledged that although the team’s penalty kill unit has not been strong lately, there are improvements being made on that front.
“It’s something we’ve not been happy with here in recent weeks [and] it’s something we’ve spent a lot of time on,” said Duco. “I thought they did a terrific job today, you can tell they were really dialled in.”
First-year Varsity Blues defenceman Aiden Reeves scored the game-winning goal with a slapshot from the faceoff dot midway through the final frame.
Third-year forward Owen Robinson sealed the deal for U of T with an empty-net goal late in the period.
“There’s a couple of goals we’d like to have back, a couple of soft plays in our defensive zone and not enough execution or effort from our forward group,” Duco said. “There are some grade-A opportunities that we have to find a way to bury.”
UP NEXT: The Bold will look to return to the win column when they travel to Canada Games Park to play the nationally-ranked Brock Badgers on Nov. 24.