Part of the Calgary Inferno’s 2017 draft class, the selection of Taryn Baumgardt has quickly paid positive dividends. Taken in the first round (fifth overall) Baumgardt is part of a blueline unit for the Inferno that consists of a combination of youth, including fellow draft pick Kelly Murray, plus experienced leadership, highlighted by Laura Dostaler, a member of the 2016 Clarkson Cup championship team.
Raised in Innisfail, Alberta, the chance for Baumgardt to compete professionally in her home province truly brings her promising career full circle. Prior to competing at the NCAA level with Hamden, Connecticut’s Quinnipiac Bobcats, Baumgardt manned the blueline for the JWHL’s Warner Warriors, earning First Team All-Star honors while pacing the club with a plus/minus rating of +27. As a side note, she balanced such hockey heroics while also starring in badminton, softball and volleyball with Innisfail High School.
Also a member of the gold medal-winning provincial squad at the 2010 Canadian U18 Women’s Nationals, Baumgardt’s impact as one of Alberta’s most promising young stars was accentuated by capturing gold with Team Canada at the 2013 U-18 World Championships. In committing to the Bobcats, she would become the first Team Canada U18 alum to don their sweater, joining Nicole Connery, Breann Frykas, Nicole Kosta and Cydney Roesler. Coincidentally, Kosta would also be part of the 2017 CWHL Draft Class, taken third overall by the Markham Thunder.
Contributing to an unprecedented period of success with the Bobcats, highlighted by the program’s first-ever regular season and postseason conference championships, Baumgardt served as team captain in her senior season.
Graduating with a remarkable number of accolades, there was one that demonstrated her great spirit as a student-athlete. One of three Bobcats student-athletes to gain CoSIDA Academic All-District At-Large First Team honors in 2017, it complements the multiple ECAC All-Academic Team Selections in her career. Of note, Baumgardt becomes only the second women’s ice hockey player in Bobcats athletic lore to gain the honor, following Kristen Tamberg, who gained such distinguished recognition in 2016.
Graduating as the all-time games played leader in Bobcats history, becoming the first to reach the 150 game plateau, Baumgardt also gained recognition to the ECAC Hockey Third-Team All-Stars. Recording 17 points during her senior season, she paced all players with a solid plus/minus rating of +20. Having also established herself as a shot blocking specialist with the Bobcats, Baumgardt headlined an elite defense which frustrated opponents, allowing only 18.18 shots per game, plus a miniscule 1.32 goals-per-game that ranked number 1in the conference, and second overall nationally, respectively.
Making the transition to the professional ranks, she is part of a remarkable number of accomplished Bobcats contributing towards a new legacy. Goaltender Sydney Rossman, part of the Bobcats Class of 2017 with Baumgardt, is currently standing between the pipes for an American professional team based in Stamford, Connecticut.
Joined by the likes of Nicole Connery, Elena Orlando, Cydney Roesler and Victoria Vigilanti, among others, they are proud Bobcats alumnae that have graduated to the professional ranks. Worth noting, Baumgardt is the first Bobcats alum to be drafted by the Inferno.
“Quinnipiac has such a great women’s hockey program. The coaching staff takes pride in the development of athletes both on the ice and off the ice. It is extremely humbling to be in a group of alum that have been able to continue playing hockey after Quinnipiac because they are all so extremely talented and exceptional individuals.”
Making her Inferno debut in an October 21 road game against the Boston Blades, there was a shared milestone, as multiple players on both teams were gracing CWHL ice for the first time in their careers.
“It was a surreal experience to step on the ice and play as a professional athlete. I felt very honored to be part of a group of women that are trying to grow the game. I definitely had butterflies before my first shift but it was a pretty special moment in my hockey career. And to be able to be a part of such an amazing Calgary Inferno organization while doing it was simply amazing.”
One week later, Baumgardt would experience another cherished milestone. Appearing for the first time on home ice, there was a euphoric feeling of contentment, as Baumgardt enjoyed the opportunity to compete with friends and family in the stands.
Competing against the Kunlun Red Star, the October 28 contest, which took place at Max Bell Arena, it represented a gratifying new chapter in Baumgardt’s career. Considering it had been four years since she last played in her home province, the chance to call herself a professional brings with it a tremendous feeling of attainment.
In spite of the Red Star prevailing in overtime, there was still a strong sense of victory on this day. With fellow rookie blueliner Kelly Murray gaining Second Star of the Game honors, along with the chance to debut with jubilant friends and family on-hand, it represented a monumental milestone for the proud Baumgardt.
“To be able to play professional hockey in my home province is an absolute dream come true. It is something that I am so fortunate to experience because not every athlete does. I have been away from Alberta for some time now and to be able to come back and play in front of friends and family is something very special to me.”
As the season progresses, Baumgardt has already accumulated a lasting series of memories which are destined to provide her with great fulfillment in years to come. Such a captivating time has been enhanced by the feeling of camaraderie within the Inferno’s ranks. One instance that stood out for Baumgardt has also proven to be one of her favorite moments in this season.
While Baumgardt’s first point took place on November 5, gaining a second period assist on a goal scored by Jacquie Pierri in a 7-2 win against the visiting Markham Thunder, it was a most notable assist. Of note, Pierri’s first goal of the season also proved to be the game-winning tally.
Before the holiday break, Baumgardt would also log assists in a Remembrance Day match with the Toronto Furies, along with an assist on Erica Kromm’s goal in a convincing 4-1 victory on November 26 versus the Boston Blades. As Baumgardt continues to show her strong playmaking abilities, her confidence growing, such elements are only part of a much richer narrative. To witness the enthusiasm and fidelity demonstrated when her blueline partner registered her first goal in league play, it was testament to the loyalty that defines the Inferno’s culture. Such values have served as a hallmark of what it means for the reliable Baumgardt to proudly don the team colors,
“I have enjoyed getting to know my new teammates and competing with them in every practice and game. It is awesome to make new friends while playing the sport you love.
There are so many moments already that I love from the first half of the season, it’s hard to just pick one. But something that stands out in my mind is when my d-partner scored her first CWHL goal and the whole team was so excited for her. I think that moment shows how much everyone on the team cares about one another and wants each other to be successful. It is a pretty special group!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Dave Holland (Inferno) and Shelley M. Swaszt (Bobcats)