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New-look Ryerson hockey squad prepares for coming season

Rams improve size and depth to take a run at the playoffs

By Aaron Sands

The Ryerson Rams hockey team is hoping for a little beginner’s luck heading into the new season.

With over half of this year’s squad being rookies, Ryerson hockey fans can expect to see a completely different and much improved team on the ice this year.

After several months of off-season recruiting, the team has 14 new faces in camp. 

“We’ve brought in a lot of good quality hockey players from the Junior ranks,” said head coach Louie Carnavale. “This year we’re off to a much better start with bodies and depth than we were last year.”

Carnavale said the key to the Rams’ success this season will depend on how quickly the rookies adjust to the fast-paced OUAA.

“There’s going to be a big learning curve for the new players. It’s a big step from junior hockey to this level. Without the red line it’s a much faster and bring the freshmen and the veterans together into a system will be crucial to our success.”

One area where the Rams have added depth is in the goaltending department. With stick-smasher extraordinaire Andrew Escott out of the line-up, Carnavale is hoping for more stability and composure between the pipes this year. The coach admits that despite Escott’s skills, his short-temper had negative effects on the team’s play last season. 

“I can’t say that his (Escott’s) attitude was always positive and it probably did affect us but the guys knew what Andrew was all about and accepted him for that,” Carnavale said. “But we’ve definitely got more stable goaltending this year.”

Carnavale said there are no sure-bets for the number one spot between the pipes, with four goaltenders battling for the position — including last year’s back-up John McGowan. The coaching staff expects to cut down to three after the exhibition schedule. 

With a brand new roster, Carnavale plans on changing his defensive coaching style to compliment the new talent on the teams. 

“Last year we were very defensive minded. We couldn’t play an aggressive system because we didn’t have the physical size or the depth whereas this year it has changed,” Carnavale said. “As a coach you try to adapt your system around the strengths on the team and this year our strengths are different than they were last year.”

Forward Ian Richardson, the Rams’ leading scorer last year, predicts a more exciting offensive style of play for the team this season. “We’re going to play a fairly physical style and try to apply a little more offence this year. Hopefully that will produce a few more goals than we had last year.”

Richardson cautioned upcoming opponents that a game against the Rams will no longer signify an easy win.

“I think we sent out a pretty good message last year that we’re going to be competitive in every game,” Richardson said. “Each game we go into we’re going to be looking for two points.”

Richardson is optimistic that the new-look Rams will be a force to be reckoned with in the OUAA this year. “There’s going to be a lot of teams that aren’t nearly as strong as they were last year. We’ve improved in all areas and there’s no reason in the world why we shouldn’t be a significantly stronger team this year.”

After narrowly missing the final playoff spot in the Mid-West division to Laurentian last season, Carnavale said the team’s main goals this year will be making the playoffs — something the Ryerson hockey team hasn’t accomplished in six years.

Ryerson’s exhibition schedule begins this week with games against Laurier and York. The annual Ryerson Tournament starts this Friday at St. Mike’s Arena. The Rams will face-off against Queen’s and U of T will take on McGill.

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