By Robyn Doolittle
When Braden Deane was in kindergarten, his two older brothers needed some to block the posts in their backyard rink. The 20-year-old has been in net ever since.
In the Rams’ second game this season, Deane got a shutout, something no one has done at Ryerson in six years.
Back in Huntsville, while Deane was playing in the junior A league, the now second-year film student was attracted to Ryerson for its program, but a deciding factor was the hockey team.
“I talked to Ed the head coach, and he’d heard from someone else that I was interested in going to Ryerson,” he said. “He was looking for a goalie because their’s was going to be graduating.”
The hockey team has had trouble finding a reliable goalie and despite his rookie status, Deane played regularly.
Last year, Deane played 22 of the 24 games, something a first-year wouldn’t normally do. Most rookies play back-up for a few years to gain experience, but Deane played well in a few exhibition games before the season.
“Ed’s philosophy is if you’re playing well, he’ll put you in,” said Deane. “I was playing well and the other guy wasn’t.”
This year the Rams have won one game and lost nine, but their record is not reflective of the team’s effort.
On the weekend the team traveled to Montreal to play McGill and then Ottawa.
The game against Ottawa — ranked among the top 10 in the country — went especially poorly with a final score of eight to nothing. Deane played the first two periods.
“The worst feeling as a goalie is a game like that. You lose your focus and they just start going by,” said Deane. “Nothing was going right. If we lose badly I blame myself, to a certain extent. There’s not much sense to blame the defence or forwards.”
He says he has learned to reflect upon his bad performances and learn from them.
“Then after a bad game, you need to sit down and analyze what you’ve done wrong and work on fixing it,” says Deane. “This year, I’m getting a lot better at that,” he says.
Last year, Deane had a bad game against Western. A couple of quick ones went by in the first few periods, and he was getting frustrated.
“I was getting so angry with how the game was going, so I tried to break my stick over the net. I whacked it two or three times, but the things wouldn’t break. I ended up just throwing it down to centre ice.”
Even though it feels great to hear that stick crack, he knows it only provides a second or two of relief from a bad game, but then he’ll start to feel guilty. Deane then recalled standing there during the power play, embarrassed that the stick wouldn’t break, praying they weren’t going to score again.
A good goalie may let one or two in but will keep his composure to help salvage the game for his team, Deane says. “The key is to not get down on yourself or your teammates. You can’t dwell on things.”
Deane thinks he’s getting a lot better this year at being able to do that.
“I haven’t broken a stick yet.”
With the many weekend games and early morning practices in Etobicoke, sometimes it’s hard to balance hockey and school, but Deane thinks that it’s worth it.
“I don’t think I’d feel as close to the university if I didn’t play hockey. It’s like a community, I couldn’t imagine not playing.”
But if the rumoured athletic referendum results in a no vote, hockey may be one of the first sports to get cut.
Although Deane is against it, he understands why people not involved in athletics at Ryerson may not want to pay extra for something they don’t participate in.
Fan turnout, and the resulting revenue, is one of the criterion considered when evaluating a sport’s importance to the school. And with hockey being the most expensive sport, more fan support is desperately needed.
According to recent surveys, school spirit at Ryerson is close to the worst in the country. If fans do attend hockey games, it’s mostly just player’s girlfriends and parents.
At one point the school arranged a fan bus but two of the three people that showed up were Deane’s roommates.
When Deane and the rest of the guys visit other schools, the arenas are often packed.
Ryerson is at an obvious disadvantage as home games are played so far off campus, but Deane wishes the rest of the student body would look at the Varsity teams not just as sports, but as a representation of the school.
“We’re out there playing on behalf of Ryerson and it’s just a shame that there isn’t more support for all the teams,” says Deane. “I am thankful that I get the opportunity to play now, though, and I will continue to play until I graduate.”
Deane knows he wants to do something related to film production after graduation, but to what capacity, he isn’t sure.
“I’d love to be able to incorporate hockey in my career, that’d be a real bonus,” he says.
Deane would also love to be able to continue with competitive hockey after school. He sees himself staying in Toronto, especially since he’s interested in the film industry.
But no matter how long he is in the city, at heart Deane still thinks and feels like the country-boy on his dad’s flooded rink.