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TMU men's hockey players Kyle Bollers and Kai Edmonds hug each other after a win
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Playoff primer: TMU varsity teams gear up for post-season

By Sam Beaudoin

There is simply no better word in sports than ‘playoffs.’

Whether it’s the crowd’s silence before a decisive moment or the eruption of the home faithful after their team punched their ticket to the next round, playoffs make fans fall deeper in love with sports. 

After months of hard training, film sessions, long bus rides and countless battles on the playing field, it’s officially playoff time in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference. 

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) will have four of its six varsity teams that play in the winter competing in the playoffs, each hoping to bring a banner back to the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).

From lengthy win streaks to taking on one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s most historic programs, each one of these TMU squads will enter the post-season with quite a handful of storylines.

Here’s a look at where each team stands heading into post-season play:


The Bold are entering the playoffs playing some of their best hockey of the season. The team has won seven of their last 10 games and is fresh off a first-round bye. 

After a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of their crosstown rivals—the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues—last season, TMU enters the playoffs with a star-studded roster that is extra hungry to make a deep run.

While the Bold have their eyes set on their second-round opponent—the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks—and winning the OUA’s Queen’s Cup, the team has a berth in the national tournament secured as its host. 

Following the conclusion of the OUA playoffs, the Bold will host the U Sports national tournament at the MAC from March 14 to 17. At the event, the team will look to etch their name in history and lift the David Johnston University Cup in their barn. 

  • TMU men's hockey player Chris Playfair pushes up his visor while standing on the ice while Connor Bowie skates behind him
  • TMU men's hockey player Kevin Gursoy skates with the puck as teammate Kyle Bollers trails behind him
  • Five players on the TMU men's hockey team celebrate a goal
  • TMU men's hockey player Ryan Wells stares at the ice while on the bench with his mouthguard hanging out of his mouth

In their host year, TMU has compiled one of their better rosters in recent seasons. The squad understands they need to capitalize on this opportunity with 10 graduating players on the roster. 

“We’ve got a group in there that’s become a family,” said Bold head coach Johnny Duco following their win against the Guelph Gryphons on Feb. 3. “When you get to tough playoff hockey, the guys love an opportunity to come together and not let each other down.”

Among those seniors are two linemates TMU will lean on heavily to produce: third-year forward Kyle Bollers and third-year forward Kevin Gursoy. The duo has combined for 72 points this season and are key elements to TMU’s power play, which operates at 23.4 per cent—second-best in the OUA West division. 

The Bold must win the special teams battle to defeat the Golden Hawks and advance. Laurier finished just behind TMU in power play percentage during the regular season. 

“We’ve got a group in there that’s become a family”

Despite being the last team to qualify for the post-season, the Golden Hawks finished the regular season strong, winning eight of their last 10 games—ultimately upsetting the OUA West’s third-ranked team, U of T, in a first-round sweep. 

Laurier will have two scorching hot players in the series, second-year forward Patrick Brown and third-year defenceman Conor Ali, who put up five and six points respectively in their three playoff games thus far. 

The Bold will need to continue playing their best hockey of the season if they wish to take down the streaking Golden Hawks and continue their march to establish themselves as the nation’s best team. 

“We feel if we bring our effort and execution for 60 minutes, we can play with anybody,” said Duco.


Another TMU squad entering the playoffs firing on all cylinders is the women’s volleyball team. Fresh off their seventh consecutive win on Feb. 17, the team is among the OUA’s most dangerous teams heading into their playoff matchup against the Varsity Blues at the MAC on Feb. 24. 

Due to a change in OUA scheduling this season, the two teams have not met since the pre-season in October 2023—when the Bold easily took down their Toronto rivals in straight sets. 

However, taking down U of T will be no easy task for the Bold. The Varsity Blues finished the regular season two games behind TMU and have the top-two kill leaders in the OUA with second-year outside hitter Olivia Zhu and third-year outside hitter Julia Murmann. 

  • The TMU women's volleyball team celebrate a win in a huddle on the court
  • TMU women's volleyball players high five on the court
  • Members of the TMU Bold women's volleyball team celebrate after winning
  • TMU women's volleyball players huddle around each other on the court after scoring a point

Taking on two of U Sports’ most elite players will require the Bold to craft a sharp defensive and blocking game plan, which has been a strength of the team all season long. TMU ranks third in blocks per set in the OUA with 2.17 and second in digs just behind the Varsity Blues.

Bold head coach Dustin Reid will rely heavily on senior middle Ashley Ditchfield as an intimidating force at the net. This season, the Windsor, Ont. product was among the OUA’s leading blockers. 

“We feel really excited, the vibe we have on the team is really positive,” said Ditchfield following a match against the Western Mustangs on Feb. 8. “We’re really looking forward to battling it out in the playoffs.”

While the Bold will emphasize defence, the team’s offence, led by their two star outside hitters fifth-year Lauren Veltman and third-year Scarlett Gingera, can also help them secure a win. 

Veltman returned to TMU this season after winning a U Sports national championship in 2017-18 and had a monstrous year—leading the team in nearly every offensive category.  

“All bets are off in the playoffs”

Reid will also depend on third-year outside hitter Julie Gordon in key moments during the match. Gordon was the OUA women’s volleyball Rookie of the Year in 2009-10. Despite not playing in the OUA since the 2012-13 season, Gordon still has years of eligibility, which she’s using this season. She joined the team in the second semester and recorded an impressive 93 kills in her 11 matches played. 

This matchup may come down to which side executes better on the offensive side of the ball, setting up for an ultimate showdown at the MAC—where the Bold posted an 8-2 record on home court this season. 

“All bets are off in the playoffs,” said Reid. “It’s one game, any team can win.”


If any team were to make a pitch for the wildest 2023-24 regular season, the TMU women’s basketball team would be among the finalists. 

The Bold started the season with a perfect 10-0 record and took on the University of Connecticut Huskies in front of a sold-out MAC. Now, they are playoff-bound and will take on the Western Mustangs at the MAC on Feb. 21. 

Despite defeating TMU in their only matchup of the regular season on Jan. 13, the Mustangs pieced together a mediocre season. The team finished with an 11-11 record and snuck into post-season play. 

  • TMU women's basketball players celebrate a three on the bench
  • TMU women's basketball player Catrina Garvey dribbles the ball up the court while yelling at her teammates
  • TMU women's basketball player Kaillie Hall helps her teammate Corrynn Parker up off the floor
  • TMU women's basketball players stand up and celebrate off the bench
  • TMU women's basketball team huddles around head coach Carly Clarke during a timeout

The storyline to follow for the Bold will be the play of their two first-year stars forward Hailey Franco-DeRyck and guard Catrina Garvey, both of whom will be making their playoff debuts.

“We got thrown into the fire, a lot of our young players had to learn quickly,” said Bold head coach Carly Clarke after the team’s practice on Feb. 16. “There have been some tough learning moments, but ultimately it has prepared us well for the playoffs.” 

The two freshmen quickly earned Clarke’s trust this season and for good reason. Franco-DeRyck finished fourth in the OUA in rebounding and now holds the school record for the most rebounds in a single season. 

As for Garvey, the young guard averaged 13.2 points on the campaign and will be crucial to TMU’s success on the offensive side of the ball.

The Bold finished the season with the OUA’s seventh-best offence, averaging 65 points per game. TMU will run their offence through their two veteran guards third-year Jayme Foreman and fourth-year Kaillie Hall—both of whom averaged over 30 minutes per game this season. 

“In the playoffs, a couple of possessions can make a difference”

Western’s game plan seems rather simple. Mustangs head coach Nate McKibbon will rely heavily on two aspects of his team—his star fourth-year guard MacKeely Shantz, who is averaging 21.2 points on the season and his team’s elite ball control.

The Mustangs averaged the second-fewest turnovers per game in the OUA this season, while the Bold found themselves on the flip side, averaging the eighth-most turnovers in the league. 

Clarke will need to keep her young squad calm and composed to have any chance of winning her second Critelli Cup in three years. 

“We talk about reliance a lot. In the playoffs, a couple of possessions can make a difference,” said Clarke. “We have to be ready for every game.”


The TMU Bold men’s basketball team will enter their Feb. 21 playoff matchup against the McMaster Marauders with an extra ounce of confidence, where they’ll host the team they swept the season series against.

These two teams meet again in the OUA playoffs for a rematch of last year’s OUA quarter-finals where the Bold defeated the Marauders 104-92, with the help of fourth-year guard David Walker’s 29 points.

The Marauders finished the regular season with a 12-10 record but are now entering the playoffs having lost three of their last four games. 

TMU must find a way to contain McMaster’s fifth-year guard Mike Demagus, who finished sixth in OUA scoring and was his team’s leading scorer in both matchups against the Bold this season. 

  • TMU men's basketball player
  • TMU men's basketball players celebrate on the bench
  • TMU men's basketball player David Walker goes for a layup in between two Queen's players
  • TMU men's basketball players celebrate on the bench
  • TMU men's basketball players celebrate on the bench

TMU head coach Dave DeAveiro should be confident in his group on the defensive end of the floor, as his team tied for the sixth lowest opponent field goal percentage in the OUA.

“We’ve got a lot of talent when we play together, it’s tough to hang with us,” said fifth-year forward Lincoln Rosebush following their win over the York Lions on Feb. 14. “We can defend the hell out of the ball…when we’re doing that, everything else clicks.”

On the offensive side of the floor, expect the Bold to place the ball in the hands of Walker and the team’s leading scorer, third-year guard Aaron Rhooms. 

The two played a pivotal role in helping run the Bold offence, which was one of the league’s best. The team averaged just over 81 points per night and will need to be clicking to take down the visitors.

“We still have things to grow on and I don’t think we’re there yet”

To produce a repeat of last year’s playoff matchup, TMU will need to rely on their lethal three-point shooting, which ranks fourth in the OUA. They will also need to limit McMaster’s second-chance opportunities—an area the Marauders dominated in their last meeting. 

As the Bold enter the post-season, they hope to find consistency—something they have been searching for all season long. 

However, DeAveiro is unsure about what makes his team special heading into the playoffs.

“Still figuring that out…we still have things to grow on and I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.” 

The journey begins for all four squads this week—all on their collective home turf at the MAC. Each one of them is entering the post-season with the belief that they can bring a banner back to TMU. 

Yet when it comes to playoffs, anything can happen.

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