By Daniel Rocchi
Before coming to Ryerson, Domenic Alberga was nothing more than a third-line grinder playing on a contending Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team.
But since moving to Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Alberga has become an offensive threat for the Ryerson men’s hockey team.
The 21-year-old rookie forward has been a scoring sensation in his first season with the Rams, doing everything in his power to demonstrate abilities that some thought he never had.
“Past coaches have definitely said, ‘Maybe you have to play [on the] third line, you’re not good enough to be this kind of role or this kind of player,'” said Alberga.
But that hasn’t been the mentality of Ryerson coach Graham Wise, who has Alberga playing on the team’s top line alongside fellow OHL veterans Michael Fine and Jamie Wise.
“Coming here, Mr. Wise wanted me to be a guy that’s going to provide offence and get into a groove playing with Michael Fine and Jamie,” said Alberga. “And with those two guys and the calibre that they’ve got, it’s pretty easy to just go to the net, and we have a lot of potential as a line.”
Alberga definitely appears to be fulfilling that potential, posting a highly impressive 11 goals and 23 points in 11 games played this season.
Alberga credits the combined OHL experience and excellent chemistry between Fine, Wise and himself as major factors in their success, which has also seen Wise climb to third in OUA scoring with seven goals and 22 points.
“Obviously, he’s stepped right in and contributed right off the bat to the hockey team,” said Wise. “He’s been a great addition to our program.”
Alberga is in his first year of an undeclared arts degree at Ryerson after spending four years in the OHL, where he played for the Brampton Battalion, Sarnia Sting and the Kitchener Rangers.
Being used primarily in defensive situations in Brampton and Kitchener, Alberga made the switch from centre to the wing in Sarnia.
The shift has been instrumental in his offensive production with the Rams.
“In Brampton, for my first two years I was third-line centreman, more of a shut-down role,” he said. “And then when I got moved to Sarnia I got moved to left wing, and had probably my best OHL career there.”
A native of Maple, Ont., Alberga chose Ryerson to be closer to home after four years of living away for junior hockey, and is now more than pleased with his decision.
“It’s great so far,” said Alberga. “The people here are very welcoming, the staff and everyone, the community.”
Alberga says that with many of the team’s veterans playing in the final year of their university careers, he would relish the chance to assume a leadership role with the team in years to come, but not without seeing where else his scoring touch can take him.
“If something comes to me next year, maybe, say, in Europe or something, where I have the chance to make money, I’m going to jump to it,” said Alberga. “Hockey has always been my first mentality. It’s my dream.”
And while a European contract isn’t far-fetched, especially since he recently obtained dual citizenship between Canada and Italy, Alberga’s focus right now is on success with the Rams.
“It’d be good to end up in the top four,” he said. “I believe that the team ourselves, we’re capable of beating Western and teams like McGill and those guys, and I think we can be right at the top, too.”