(By: Jackson Farough and Emile Riga)
As the Rams’ hockey season kicks off with the men’s season opener on October 3rd, fans should be very optimistic about both teams this season. After two exciting seasons that featured postseason appearances from both teams last year, it’s no surprise that Ryerson hockey provides tons of intrigue in 2018-19. Here’s why:
1. The Coaches
John Duco, the head coach of the men’s team led the Rams to a 16-8-4 record in 2017-18. This stands as one of the most successful seasons in team history. In 2012-13, he coached the GTHL’s Bradford Rattlers to a perfect 42-0 record and also won co-coach of the year. Coach Duco believes that his experience has taught him a lot.
“I think the more experience you have, the more you learn from your mistakes and you see as a coach what works and what doesn’t in terms of motivation and strategy and all those different aspects that go into it,” said Duco. “My experiences coaching in the GTHL and in junior hockey and then being an assistant coach here under Graham Wise for three years, it taught me an incredible amount.”
While Duco leads the men’s team in the right direction, the women’s team is in great hands as well. Lisa Haley is heading into her eighth year as head coach of the women’s team. Since taking over the team in 2011, she’s put an emphasis on being accountable.
“I think it comes back to that word of accountability… For us, there’s a lot of unity within our group,” said Haley. “We feel like we’ve put in the hard work and now it’s time to expect results from ourselves and if that doesn’t happen, there’s a lot of accountability for that.”
2. Last Season’s Success Leads to Optimism
In 2017-18, the women’s team won their first playoff game, with a 15-7-2 regular season record to boot. They were also top ten in both goals for per game (6th), and goals against per game (9th) last season. As a result, the team certainly has high expectations heading into 2018-19. Coach Haley is determined to improve this season.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure that the next step is a forward one,” said Haley. “Obviously we’re happy with the big steps we took last year and what’s important, for sure, is to expect more from ourselves. Last year was great, it’s important to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and we are a team that can compete for an OUA championship.”
Last season, the men’s team ranked 4th in the OUA in goals per game with 3.82. This, along with the return of team point leader Matt Mistele (18 GP, 33 Points) point the team in a great direction looking forward.
Team captain Alex Basso is also returning; Coach Duco stresses his importance both on and off the ice:
“He’s an extension of our coaching staff. He leads by example but he also knows if something needs to be said, he’s not shy to stand up and say it and make sure that he’s holding players accountable and that his teammates are doing things the right way on a day to day basis.”
Expect this team to build off last season and turn into an offensive juggernaut, lighting the lamp all year long.
3. Lots of new faces
The Ryerson hockey program is welcoming 17 first year recruits for the 2018-19 season. With both teams now having more first-year students than any other year (9 on the women’s squad and 8 on the men’s), they will not only be welcoming their new set of freshman but will be expecting them to make an immediate impact, as men’s head coach Johnny Duco told RUtv “We think we’ve got a really good group that can quickly adjust to the league”.
Between the women’s team acquiring NCAA D1, Olympic level players and the men acquiring an abundance of experienced OHL talent, a standard of excellence seems to be building in the culture of Ryerson hockey.
“When you start to put together winning seasons, the expectations rise and it gets easier to deal with the outcast people that aren’t bought in” said women’s coach Lisa Haley, ahead of her eighth season at Ryerson.
Some particular new faces to watch on the women’s team will be:
- Ye Eun Park – A 5’3 defenseman who played 5 games with Team Korea at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
- Camryn Tait – A 5’8 forward who played one NCAA Division I season for the Providence College Friars. She is also a U18 National Champion with Team Ontario.
Player’s to watch on the men’s team will be:
- Mathew Santos – A 6’0 forward who played for Detroit Red Wings affiliate team the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL. Santos has also played 250+ games in the OHL with 127 total points.
- Patrick Fellows – A 6’3 forward who spent 4 years with the Erie Otters in the OHL. In his final season with the Otters, Fellows was alternate captain of the team and led them to an OHL Championship and Memorial Cup Final.
The men’s regular-season opener is this Wednesday, October 3rd at 7:15 p.m., and the women’s on Thursday, October 14th at 4:15 p.m. Both games will be played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
(Header photo: Alex D’Addese)