By Cory Wright
Coming off a league-worst campaign, the Ryerson men’s hockey team has added depth and looks to make a serious turnaround this season.
And with no draft at the university level, there is no high draft prospect to compensate for a poor finish to the season.
Graham Wise, entering his fourth year of coaching the Rams, has been very active in the recruiting department. Despite apparent obstacles, such as playing off campus, he has enticed seven players to come to Ryerson.
Wise has sought the OHL route to lure players into camp.
“We’re really happy we addressed our depth,” said the coach. “We’re in a situation that if you aren’t going hard we can put someone else on who can.”
One such player is former Kitchener Ranger Myles Barbieri, who is being looked upon to bolster the team’s blue line.
Captain Kevin Krasnowski recalls when the Rams struggled to dress two full lines.
“Graham has brought in more professionalism,” said Krasnowski. “He’s implemented a new attitude and a new system and it’s just a matter of the guys buying into it.”
Barbieri said his main reason for coming to Ryerson was the coach himself.
“If I want to get to that next level, it all starts with coaching,” said Barbieri. “I heard a lot of great things about Graham.”
Wise has not been able to land every player he would like. He pursued a former Ottawa 67 who, after being cut from the Minnesota Wild, decided to play for Guelph.
“That’s just recruiting at the university level,” Wise said. “You win some and you lose some.”
The OUA has also changed its playoff format this season, eliminating firstround byes and expanding the number of teams that will qualify. Of the 19 teams in competition, 16 will now be vying for playoff berths.
That has given Wise reason to believe the time is ripe for the Rams to break into the post-season and end their seven- year absence from it.
“With the new format, we’ve got to be in the playoffs,” he said. “And once we get there, anything can happen.”
It will take a lot for the Rams to improve on their previous average of 2.48 goals per game set last season.
The team didn’t lose a player, but a newfound belief is circulating in their locker room, enough for Krasnowski to think they can leave every game with points.
“This is the year,” he says.