By Adrian Cheung
As far back as 50 years ago, the Ryerson men’s hockey team has been forced to venture off campus to play.
Today, that fact is cited as a cold deterrent to success. But in one victorious season from 1958-59, after tireless commutes to Scarborough for practice and games, it served merely as an obstacle hurdled and conquered.
“We used to throw our equipment and ourselves in the back of a truck and they would drive us back after the games,” said Bryan Webber, assistant captain and most valuable player in ’59. “That was different, I’ll tell you that.”
Webber recounts this with the rest of the ’59 Rams as they reunited for their induction into Ryerson’s Sports and Recreation Hall of Fame last Friday.
Not only did that historic team win their first Ontario Interuniversity Athletic Association (OIAA) championship for the school, but they did it all without losing a single game, capping off with a 6-3 championship win over the Guelph University Aggies.
“The team laid the cornerstone of what we’re trying to build at Ryerson,” said athletic director Ivan Joseph.
“They are the tradition, they are the storytellers and they are the mantle wearers. So I think it’s a great thing for them to be honoured tonight.”
Being on a successful team of any capacity requires complete commitment and unity among the players and the coaching staff. Being on a perfect one requires something that’s not quite quantifiable.
Led by coach Norm McClelland, though, the players didn’t recall facing any pressure as they bore through their undefeated season.
“Coach told us what the lines were at the beginning and we just went out there and played. We weren’t thinking of going undefeated because we were just having fun,” said Gary Benedet, a former right winger. “We just clicked out there on the ice.”
In between catching up on each other’s lives in the time they’ve been apart, warm handshakes and hearty laughs summoned old locker room jokes and tales of glorious goals.
But some stories went untold, with nervous laughter mounting, heads wagging in timidity and others halting at the embarrassing.
“That stuff is unprintable!” said Benedet.
And Webber, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an individual in 2005, said this induction was that much sweeter.
“It’s always better to go [into the Hall of Fame] as a whole team. Each player had their roles but you need everybody else there to play at their best,” he said.