By Dennis Leary
The spirits of former Toronto Maple Leaf greats like Tim Horton, Johnny Bower and Syl Apps floated through the air as Ryerson’s hockey team opened its training camp.
On the historic Maple Leaf Gardens’ ice, 31 Ryerson students skated and stopped to the tune of men’s hockey head coach Louie Carnevale’s whistle Monday afternoon.
The Ryerson team held their first on-ice tryout on Monday inside the venerable, old building.
Coach Carnevale is back for his sixth year as the Rams head coach. Under Carnevale the Rams are slowly improving. In the 1997-1998 season they managed only three wins, while last year they had one of their better showings in the ’90s with a 6-19 record.
The team has already suffered a huge loss because the Ontario University Athletics’ rookie of the year and team MVP Marcin Snita will not be returning to Ryerson this year.
Snita, who scored 19 points in 59 games with the St. Michael’s Majors in the Ontario Hockey League in 1997-98, finished 10th overall in OUA scoring last year with 31 points.
“Anything you lose someone that good it’s going to take its toll,” Carnevale said. “But we’ve got some strong players coming, as well our veterans who are going to have to step it up.”
The team will have a strong veteran presence with 12 returning players, including goalie Carm Giurleo.
Jason Kotack, a fourth-year administration and information management student, is one of the veterans who think the team will surprise some people this year.
“[Excluding Snita] our top two lines are back,” he said. “We’re improving every year. Hopefully this is the one.”
The Rams will be practicing all week at Maple Leaf Gardens in preparation for their first exhibition game at the University of Western Michigan Oct. 1.
Carnevale hopes to have his roster thinned to 25 for the road trip. The Rams have plenty of time to prepare for their first league game Oct. 20 against Sir Wilfred Laurier University.