By Steve Petrick
Ryerson’s hockey team is still searching for a new home after plans for a new rink fell through last month.
Although the Rams play home games out of St. Michael’s Arena, at the corner of Bathurst and St. Clair Streets, Rams head coach Ed Kirsten would like a rink that could hold a team dressing room and store players’ equipment.
But finding one hasn’t come easily. The first-year coach said he was talking to managers of a rink west of the campus that needed a main tenant last month. Since then, the rink—which Kirsten wouldn’t name—has found a tenant, leaving the Rams scrambling for new ideas.
“Something has to be done before the players leave school in April,” Kirsten said. He hopes if a deal for a new rink is secured by then, players will be encouraged to return to the team. “In the next six to eight weeks we have to be ready to go.”
When the team’s usual practice rink, Maple Leaf Gardens, shut its ice surface before the start of this season, the Rams were forced to split their practice time between Moss Park Arena and the University of Toronto’s Varsity Arena. Finding a new venue would avoid the complicated practice schedules the team had to endure this year, which resulted in poor attendance and contributed to the team’s dismal 4-20-0 regular-season record.
Having a place where the team could practice daily at a fixed time is part of Kirstens plan to make it easier to be a hockey player at Ryerson.
Because practices at Moss Park were in the afternoon this year, many players couldn’t attend. Those who did make it didn’t get much out of it because the rink, three blocks southeast of Ryerson, is small compared to the ones more university-level games are played on. Any game plans developed on the tiny ice surface become useless when playing on a larger rink. Practices at the U of T rink were early in the morning, making it tough on players who commute.
Kirsten is talking to several rinks in Toronto and said a deal with St. Michael’s Arena is possible. The rink, owned by the private high school, St. Michael’s College, will have more ice time available if its chief tenant, the Ontario Hockey League’s Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, leave town next season.
A recent report in The Toronto Sun suggested the Majors may move to Cornwall, Ont.
It doesn’t appear Maple Leaf Gardens, the hockey shrine one block north of Ryerson, will be available to the Rams by next season. An employee of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment—the company that owns the building—who wished to be anonymous said the Gardens is no longer for sale, even though it’s not being used.