By Scott Carefoot
Ryerson hockey coach Louie Carenvale hopes to prove that size does matter as he tries to lead this year’s bigger, tougher Rams into the playoffs.
With 18 new players at Ryerson this year, Carnevale, in his fifth year as head coach, hopes the fresh talent can help erase the bad taste of last year’s dismal 3-19-4 record.
“We got knocked around quite a bit last year,” Carnevale said. “But we’ve added a lot of size this year.”
“A lot of the guys hit the weights over the summer. We’ve got a lot of guys in the 200-pound range this year.”
In addition to a more muscle-bound roster, the Rams line-up will be helped by two additions from the Ontario Hockey League.
Former St. Michael’s Majors forward Marcin Snita and former Sarnia Sting defenseman Jason Hurlbut will add depth to a shallow Rams talent pool.
Last season, Snita ha 19 points in 59 games with the Majors.
The Rams need to improve in just about every area. In particular, Carnevale is counting on a bigger, tougher defence that will be able to help veteran goalie Carm Giurleo cut down on the 139 goals Ryerson allowed against them last year, the highest total in the OUA.
“Carm’s going to have the ball in his court,” Carnevale said. “He’s going to play the majority of the games this year. He’s coming in with a great attitude and work ethic so far and I expect him to have a great year.”
Ryerson lost six games by one goal last year. Carnevale hopes an improved defence and the added scoring punch of Snita could make a difference in close games.
The team has also been hurt by the departure of some key players. Last year’s leading scorer, forward Ken Forshee, left the team to play in the European Professional Hockey League.
Even with the few returning players he has, Carnevale expects the veterans to provide leadership for the team.
“Guys that are going to have to lead are Kirby Tokarski, Chris Sturino, Ryan Love and Jason Kotack,” Carnevale said. “They’re our four forwards who are going to have to play in our top two lines and add a lot of scoring.”
The biggest improvement Carnevale sees with this year’s team is the work ethic. He hopes the new players will bring the strong effort and winning attitude lacking with past teams. Any improvement would be welcome, but Carnevale is aiming to make the playoffs this year. “We’re going to play more in-your-face, aggressive hockey this year,” Carnevale said.
Ryerson starts the season Friday at 7:45 p.m. at St. Michael’s Arena against he Brock Badgers.