By Adriana Fallico
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s hockey team smacked the Lakehead Thunderwolves 7-0 in the second half of a back-to-back at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
This was the Bold’s last game of the 2023 calendar and it was clear the vibes were joyous and strong among the team throughout the game.
“For us, it’s good vibes going into the break,” Bold head coach Johnny Duco said.
Just over four minutes into the first period, the Bold struck first. Second-year forward Connor Bowie stuffed the puck into the smallest opening in Lakehead second-year netminder Max Wright’s five-hole.
Following the opening marker, the Bold kept pushing. Third-year forward Kyle Bollers scored a few minutes later and Bowie was not done either. The Fort St. John, B.C. product tapped home his second of the game in the dying minutes of the first thanks to a slick play from third-year forward Chris Playfair to head into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead.
The Bold did not let their momentum die down in the second period, as third-year defenceman Joe Rupoli sniped his first goal of the season through traffic, resulting in a Thunderwolves goalie change.
Duco had nothing but praise for Rupoli’s game, calling him an “unsung hero.”
“He’s a heart and soul player on our team. He’s someone we count on, night in [and] night out,” Duco said. “He’s not someone who will show up on the scoresheet, but we know in that room with our staff how impactful he is.”
While the Thunderwolves piled on the shots, second-year goaltender Ryan Dugas held the fort down in his first start of the season.
“I think it’s a big step for [my] confidence, I haven’t played much this year, so stepping in and having a really good game is super important for me, personally,” Dugas said.
Duco said Dugas had a “fantastic game” and felt that he “deserved this game” as the netminder has had a lack of opportunities in the net this season.
“To be honest, whether it’s been exhibition or the opportunities he has gone in there, every time we’ve put him in he’s played really well and given [us] a chance to win,” Duco said.
The Bold did not take their foot off the gas in the third period, as they potted two more goals from first-year Daniil Grigorev and fourth-year Carson Gallagher to extend their lead to six.
In the final minute, Bowie was awarded a penalty shot with a chance to complete the hat-trick, but did not convert.
“Honestly, with the penalty shot, normally I would have shot right away, but I thought I would change it up and go for a fake shot on him,” Bowie said. “I actually thought I had him for sure, but I just didn’t get it up high enough.”
Yet, in the final seconds, Bowie redeemed himself as he scored point-blank to complete the hat trick in what he characterized as an “insane” moment.
“I knew there was a little time left, so I wasn’t too concerned,” Bowie said. “But we got it done, so that’s what matters.”
Despite routing the Thunderwolves on the offensive end, Duco credited the win to the team’s consistent defensive play.
“I thought we did a really good job keeping them to the outside, limiting the high-danger chances,” said Duco. “We were really intentional in deterring that and taking away their strength.”
Duco said that the team will continue to work throughout the break so players can rest up and is “really excited” for the second semester.
Bowie agreed with this sentiment, saying that the team will “keep the good vibes going” throughout the break.
“We’ll continuously be on the ice, in the gym and try to stay in shape and try to keep it calm,” Bowie said.
UP NEXT: The Bold head off into the holidays before facing off against the Brock Badgers in the new year. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 p.m at the MAC on January 4, 2024.