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Dan Ninham
Special to ICT

Victoria Bach started playing hockey at a young age.

As the daughter of a longtime hockey player and coach, she moved easily from soccer, lacrosse and other sports to the ice rink.

“I fell in love with the game of hockey the first time I stepped on the ice,” she told Indian Country Today via email. “I remember getting my first set of gear with my dad at Canadian Tire and skating for the first time. I fell in love with the game and wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps, and I never turned back from that day.”

After breaking records in women’s hockey at Division 1 Boston University, Bach made history again in May as a member of the first women’s championship team at the Fred Sasakamoose Chief Thunderstick Tournament, which added a women’s competition for the first time this year.

Named for the late Fred Sasakamoose, the first Indigenous athlete to compete in the National Hockey League starting in the 1950s, the tournament showcases the talents of Indigenous athletes.

Indigenous hockey player Victoria Bach hoists the trophy for Team Canada after the final horn of the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship Cup. Bach is Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte in Canada. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Murnaghen/Hockey Canada)

Bach, who is Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte in Canada, helped her team, the Mistawasis Sagestrong, defeat the Cross Lake Lady Islanders 4-3.

During the four games her team played at the tournament, Bach had six goals and five assists, including two key assists in the championship game. Ten women’s teams and 40 men’s teams competed in the tournament.

Head Coach Terrance Lacquette, whose daughter, Bridgette Lacquette is also a star player, said Bach is a strong addition to the team.

“Victoria has an amazing skill set,” he said. “The ability to play at high level with speed is a gift that not every player has. She sees the ice very well. Her style of play makes it easy for others to adapt her style of play.

“She has a positive role in leading others in the path she’s on. I know she can make this road easy for indigenous girls moving forward.”

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She was the first player at Boston University to score more than 100 goals, becoming the university’s all-time points leader. She then played in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for the Markham Thunder, and received the league’s 2018-2019 Rookie of the Year award.

She has also been involved with Team Canada for the past nine years, and was an alternate to the 2022 Canadian Olympics team. And she played for Team Canada when it won the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship Cup.

‘Anything is possible’

Bach, 27, knows her cultural roots and the values she has learned from her family are significant.

Her father, George Bach, is Mohawk from the Bay of Quinte. His mother, Shirley Maracle, was born and raised in the Tyendinaga Territory, located just outside of Belleville, Ontario.

Victoria Bach started playing hockey at a young age after watching Team Canada's women's hockey team win gold in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bach is Mohawk from the Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte in Canada. (Photo courtesy of the Bach family)

“I am proud of where I came from,” Bach said. “I strive to take every day as a new opportunity and not take anything for granted. My family always said, ‘You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it,’ and this has always been something that has stuck with me. With hard work and determination, anything is possible. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy every moment.”

She got involved with hockey after watching the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where Canada won gold with both the men’s and women’s teams.

“I turned to my parents and told them that I wanted to play hockey and be just like those girls and represent my country one day,” she said.

Family support – and a competitive younger brother – helped her develop her skills.

“Growing up my mom [Melissa] was my rock,” Bach told Indian Country Today. “She was always there for me and was my biggest support system. My mother would spend countless hours driving me to arenas, watching my practices and games. She would make me all my meals and drive me to tournaments.”

Her brother, Jacob, who is three years younger, played AAA hockey as a defenseman, though he is now studying to become a lawyer.

“We always competed against each other and we’re very competitive,” she said. “He pushed me to become better and I would always try to beat him on one-on-ones.”

Her father, however, is her main mentor.

“Growing up, he was a great hockey player, and I wanted to be just like him,” she said. “He has taught me everything I know about hockey. My father would build me outdoor rinks and spend countless hours working on skills with me. He's pushed me and helped me set goals. He's been my biggest role model and supporter throughout my career. He's taught me not only how to be a hockey player but also to be a good person, which I am forever grateful for.”

George Bach grew up playing rep hockey in Toronto – the highest level available in any association -- and finished his playing career with the Milton Merchants Junior B. He played junior hockey for four years, which is one level below the Canadian Hockey League.

He also worked as a head coach in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association for more than 10 years, winning a red hat – the All Ontario Championship -- in 2018. He coached in the Ontario Women's Hockey Association for more than five years.

“Victoria is the type of person who I like to say eat, sleeps, dreams hockey,” George Bach said. “Watching her grow up and seeing her work ethic is inspiring to many. Growing up, we would spend countless hours on the pond and outdoor rinks together. She was always going the extra mile and loved the game of hockey.”

He continued, ““As a mentor and a father, I had always told her to follow her dreams and work hard. Always be there for others, give back to the young generation and be a good teammate.”

Success at Boston University

Bach eventually received a full scholarship to Boston University, a Division 1 team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, where she made her mark on the record books.

When she was a senior in the 2017-2018 season, the BU Terriers went to their 11th straight Hockey East post-season appearance, and Bach was a first-team NCAA Division 1 All-American.

She set new single-season records for the university, with 39 goals and 67 points. She also became the first player at Boston University to score 100 goals.

Writer Mark Staffieri summed up her success in a 2018 Hockey Life story, “Victoria Bach’s legacy with BU Terriers.”

“Having established herself as one of the greatest players to have skated for the Boston University Terriers, Victoria Bach’s senior season resulted in etching her name all over the program’s record books,” he wrote.

Four Indigenous hockey Olympians played on the Mistawasis Sagestrong team, which won the Fred Sasakamoose Chief Thunderstick Tournament, which features Indigenous players, in May 2022. From left are Abby Roque, who played for Team USA; and Team Canada's Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyn Larocque, and Victoria Bach. It was the first time the tournament had offered a women's championship. (Photo courtesy of Robin Daniels)

Brian Durocher, who was head coach of the BU women’s ice hockey program when Bach played as a senior in the 2017-2018 season, said Bach worked hard for her success.

“Victoria Bach is a highly talented hockey player who was always a leader via her overall work ethic and desire to excel,” Durocher told Indian Country Today. “Her off-ice training prepared her well and set the bar high for our program. Putting in the time before and after practice each day set a great example for the student athletes in our program.”

He continued, “On the ice, Victoria used her talent to set the pace, score big goals and open up space for her teammates. She read the game well and always found the open player with accurate passes. Her overall determination allowed her to catch opponents with her speed and pull away in offensive situations.”

She was ready for whatever came next, Durocher said.

“Her determination and desire propelled her to be the best player she could be while being prepared for big situations and or the need for a timely goal,” he said.

Looking ahead

Bach’s most recent accomplishment was at the Chief Thunderstick tournament in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in May.

Her team, the Mistawasis Sagestrong, defeated the Cross Lake Lady Islanders in a semi-final game and again in the finals after opening wins against Wiikwemkoong and the Cree Nation Selects.

She is also working as a hockey development coach, coaching teams and providing small group and private lessons.

“I look to enhance the athlete’s skills, mentor them, and guide them to success,” she told Indian Country Today.

But she is also thinking ahead. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in American Sign Language from Boston University, she is now working on a master’s degree through Queen’s University with plans to be a schoolteacher. She is also working to obtain a license to become a sign language interpreter.

She is not hearing impaired but knows many people who are.

“Growing up I lived beside the School of the Deaf, and met a lot of deaf people throughout my life and I found it to be such a fascinating language,” she said. “While studying at Boston, we had to take a language, and I decided to take sign language … I enjoyed it so much that I got a minor in it.”

And she never forgets her Indigenous roots.

“I am proudly Indigenous,” Bach said on her ProPacts website. “I am proud to represent the First Nations community and help build a legacy through my family as well as continue to educate myself about the Indigenous community and help inspire others.”

Career highlights
Victoria Bach garnered elite status quickly in women’s hockey, playing for Boston University and for Team Canada. A member of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, her accomplishments include:
• Player on the Mistawasis Sagestrong, which won the women’s inaugural championship at the Fred Sasakamoose Chief Thunderstick Tournament in Saskatchewan, Canada on May 22, 2022.
• Alternate to the Canadian women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games
• Named to the 2021 Team Canada’s Olympic Centralization Roster
• Player on Team Canada, which won the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship
• 2018-19 Markham Thunder, Canadian Women’s Hockey League Rookie of the Year
• 2018 Boston University graduate and all-time points leader
• 2017-18 Mildred Barnes Female Athlete of the Year
• 2017-18 First Team NCAA Division 1 All-American
• 2017-18 Hockey East Rookie of the Year
• 2013-14 U18 Women’s World Champion
• 2013-14 Most Valuable Forward U18 Women’s World Championships

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Follow Victoria Bach on Twitter and Instagram at @veebach21.

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