Home Hockey Artem Duda: TMU Bold’s Not-so-secret Weapon on and off the Ice

Artem Duda: TMU Bold’s Not-so-secret Weapon on and off the Ice

“He’s arguably been our best defender,” said Mike Fine, associate coach of the TMU Bold men’s hockey team

by Mathieu Sheridan
A person on the ice wearing a blue and yellow jersey.
Artem Duda, a first-year defender for the TMU Bold, has been a key part to their success this season. (Photo courtesy Josh Kim/TMU Bold Athletics)

Listen to the whole story here:

When first-year defender Artem Duda touched down in Toronto just after Christmas, no one knew what to expect. The 2022 second round pick of the Arizona Coyotes had finally found a place to play after a whirlwind year which took him from Russia, through Maine, to Toronto. 

Would he adjust to the USports level quickly or would there be growing pains? Would all the stuff he went through over the course of 2023 hold him back or would he put it behind him? 

Fast forward to March, and all of those questions have been laid to rest. Duda, playing on the top defensive pairing alongside third-year defender Ryan Wells has been one of the Bold’s most important players and a key factor for their second half and playoff success.

“He’s certainly become an impact player for us and guys see how much he can help us on the ice,” said Johnny Duco, head coach of the TMU Bold men’s hockey team.  

As the playoffs roll on, Duda became a bigger target for opponents to keep an eye on. 

At game 3 of the Ontario University Athletics West Final against the Brock Badgers. Duda and the Bold were heading into St. Catharines, Ont. with a chance to punch their way into the Queen’s Cup Final. The best of three series had seen each team split one game each with the final win on the line. 

Before the game, Mike Fine, associate coach of the Bold, pulled Duda aside to deliver him a message. 

“I did talk to him before the game,” Fine said. “I pulled him just after the warm-up and I said ‘Hey, come over here. They’re going to boo you tonight’ and I said ‘They only boo the best player’.”

Duda looked back at him with a little grin and said “I know” and walked off. 

The level-headedness and calmness of the six-foot-one Russian does not surprise those who have been around him this semester. 

“I think about a guy like Mikhail Sergachev,” said Chris Playfair, third-year forward and captain of the Bold. “I played with him in Windsor and I think Artem has a lot of the same qualities.”

“If you watch him, he always has his head up. That allows him to see other plays and I think that might be the biggest difference between him and another player who might be more focused on stickhandling and making sure the puck is on their stick,” said Connor Bowie, a second-year forward for the Bold. “With Artem, he’s not looking down. He knows it’s there. He’s just confidently making those plays.”

Similar to those who are faced with unfamiliar situations, Duda was quiet when he first appeared on campus.

“At the very beginning, he was pretty shy and reserved, more to himself,” Duco said. 

As time has passed though, Duda has become just one of the guys. 

“He’s really opened up,” Playfair said. “He’s super friendly and always happy and smiling. He’s a great guy to have around.”

“As we’ve gotten to know each other more and kind of worked through what our expectations are and what his expectations are, I think we’ve developed a mutual respect and mutual trust that he knows what we’re doing is for his benefit, short and long-term,” Duco said. “Now you see him joining with the guys and he’s one of the boys in the room. He pokes fun at guys and guys poke fun at him.”

When Duda was first announced as an addition to the roster, Twitter users speculated as to what this move would mean for the future of USports hockey. With someone of Duda’s stature committing to the team, many thought this would help elevate the brand of USports hockey to another level. 

“It’s good hockey. You continue to develop if you’re with the right program that takes pride in development,” Fine said. “It’s a great league to come to and I think having a guy of Artem’s stature and resume come through is only going to open doors for more people in the future. He took a big risk, took the unconventional route but I think people are seeing ‘hey this is a possibility’ and we got to start looking at some of these top programs in USports and giving the guys a chance.”

As a player only slated to be here one semester, Duda will be joining a large cast of players moving on from the Bold at the end of the season.

With program staples such as Kyle Bollers, Ryan Wells, Elijah Roberts and Cole Resnick all being amongst those departing, a new chapter will begin.

“It’s been really special,” said Duco. “Just seeing the impact they’ve had and the impact they’ve had off the ice, it’s been really special to see them kind of grow, mature, and develop as young men. Really proud of the legacy they’ve left.”

“I think (they) really helped build a culture that’ll stick around the program for a while,” Bowie said. “It’s something I’ll keep going as I move on the next couple years.”

As the season nears its end, the players and staff are ready to put the bow on a historic season with a Nationals win at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

“I came in with a lot of these guys. I started my coaching career with them here,” said Fine. “We talk about family a lot but it really feels like a family, like we’re going to stay in touch forever. In terms of legacy, this is the best team and best group of guys that I believe we’ve ever had.”

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

You may also like