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Two McGill Redbirds hockey players celebrate after scoring a goal on the TMU Bold net
2024 U Cup All Recaps Sports

McGill secures bronze, TMU left without medal at national tournament

By Sam Beaudoin

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s hockey team remains without a podium finish at the U Sports men’s hockey national tournament, after falling 3-2 to the McGill Redbirds on Sunday afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).

The two squads entered the contest attempting to push aside the heartbreak from Saturday’s semi-final losses and depart the MAC as the third-best team in the country.

“With today being the last time we’d be together as a group…the mindset was trying to just get one more win,” said Bold third-year forward Elijah Roberts.

The loss marks the third heartbreaker for the Bold within the last week and brings back painful memories of their bronze medal loss at the 2022 national tournament.

A pair of members that remain from that 2022 roster, third-year linemates Kyle Bollers and Kevin Gursoy exited the ice with tears in their eyes as their Ontario University Athletics career came to a close without a banner. 

“Those are two terrific people, two terrific hockey players who care more than anybody,” said TMU head coach Johnny Duco.

TMU stormed out of the gates, resembling a team vying for a place in the history books. The quick start from the hosts silenced one of the biggest storylines from the tournament thus far—the well-travelled McGill marching band. 

“The guys moving on have had a tremendous impact on our program, they’re special people”

The victims of a quick turnaround following their heartbreaking loss to the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières Patriotes on Saturday night in the semi-finals, the Redbirds came out flat in the opening minutes of the first frame. 

“Coming into the game the guys still had [heartbreak] in them, so we had to shake that out of them,” said McGill head coach David Urquhart.

TMU took advantage of their opponents’ sloppy puck management and pounced. The home side directed a number of shots toward third-year goaltender Alexis Shank—something they struggled with in their semi-final loss to the University of New Brunswick Reds. 

The high volume of chances ignited the sleepy Sunday morning crowd at the MAC, with the Bold getting on the scoresheet first. 

In what he announced would be his final professional hockey game, Roberts added a final goal to his impressive resumé. 

“When I look back on it years from now it’ll be cool to know that in my final game, I scored a goal and played pretty well,” said Roberts. “On a personal note, it’s cool. But, for the team’s sake, it sucks we could not get the job done.”

The Brampton, Ont. product scooped up a puck being slung around the boards from behind the net and redirected it off McGill fifth-year defenceman Taylor Ford’s right skate and past Shank. 

Roberts will not be the lone departure from the Bold roster following this season, as Duco and his staff will be bidding their farewells to 10 seniors following Sunday’s affair. 

  • The McGill Redbirds men's hockey team huddle together on the ice after winning
  • McGill and TMU players shake hands on the ice after the game
  • TMU Bold men's hockey players look dejected on the ice after losing
  • A group of TMU Bold men's hockey players celebrate in a huddle together after scoring a goal. The puck can be seen in the McGill net
  • Elijah Roberts high fives his bench
  • A cluster of McGill and TMU players near the TMU net
  • A TMU Bold hockey player screams in excitement after scoring on the McGill net
  • Chris Playfair looks upward on the ice
  • Some TMU Bold men's hockey players celebrate a goal while McGill players watch on

“The guys moving on have had a tremendous impact on our program, they’re special people,” said Duco. “Some of the best people I’ve had the privilege of being around in my career.”

The goal was only TMU’s third of the tournament, but it woke up the Redbirds in an alarming fashion. The ice began to tilt in the visitor’s favour with the No. 6 seed McGill squad generating a plethora of chances on Bold star second-year goaltender Kai Edmonds. 

Edmonds has been the story of the tournament for the Bold, with the netminder posting a 50-save performance in the quarterfinals against the Calgary Dinos.

“Kai was absolutely tremendous,” said Duco. “I’m disappointed we as a group couldn’t find a way to win for him.”

However, with less than five seconds remaining in the opening frame, Redbirds’ first-year forward Stephane Huard pulled off a nifty dangle to beat Edmonds and even up the game. 

With 40 minutes left to determine the fate of third place in the country, the game began to tighten in the defensive zone. With bodies flying in front of pucks, both sides began to sacrifice themselves in hopes of donning a bronze medal come the end of the afternoon. 

A summary of the period and past week for the Bold was encapsulated when third-year forward Jackson Doherty took out his frustrations on the bench door following his shift. The outburst of anger echoed throughout a fairly empty MAC, following a missed breakaway opportunity. 

The Bold were given a glorious opportunity to neutralize their frustrations and reclaim the lead in the dying seconds of the second frame. After drawing a tripping penalty, the Bold were sent to the man advantage—a place they have excelled all season long. 

TMU opened the frame hungry for bronze, spending the entirety of the power play slinging the puck across the Redbirds zone. The crisp passing and hopeful woes from the McGill band accounted for the majority of the noise filling the MAC air. 

Despite the excessive zone time, the Bold couldn’t sneak one past Shank, keeping the game tied at one apiece. 

Just minutes later as tension continued to set in for both programs, third-year forward Chris Playfair and Doherty connected on what appeared to be the goal that would secure the program’s first-ever national medal. 

The captain slinged the puck across the zone and set up Doherty who made no mistake. The frustrated winger channelled all his anger and fired home a one-timer past Shank to put the Bold up late.

However, with under 10 minutes to play in the frame, McGill third-year forward Brandon Frattaroli put his squad on his back—potting home arguably the two biggest goals of his hockey career.

The first came off a loose scrum in front of the net following a point shot from third-year Redbirds defenceman Scott Walford. 

 “I just found a way to sneak it in,” said Frattaroli. 

Walford and Frattaroli connected once again on the eventual game-winner. Frattaroli received a beautiful pass from Walford in the slot then pulled the puck to his backhand and tucked it behind Edmonds.

“He made my job easy,” said Frattaroli. “He just found me back door…and I just put it in.”

The goal secured the visitors the U Sports bronze medal and stripped the Bold the opportunity at program history. 

Since the two squads met in early September at the MAC for TMU’s Homecoming, McGill knew they wanted to finish their season playing on Mar. 17 in the same building. While it’s not gold, the team departs the MAC satisfied with their season. 

“Obviously it’s not the medal we wanted but we can still be proud of ourselves,” said Huard. 

For the Bold, the roster that remains will attempt to utilize this pain and channel it to fire their run to the 2025 U Sports men’s hockey national tournament in Ottawa. 

“Hopefully we get an opportunity to be back in this stage next year, whether it’s in the Queen’s Cup or in Ottawa,” said Duco. 

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