By Daniel Rocchi
On Tuesday, the Ryerson Rams (10-5-0) returned to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s ice hockey power-rankings for the first time since October 2010.
“It’s always nice to get your team ranked,” said Rams head coach Graham Wise. “I give a lot of credit to the players working hard and putting their best foot forward.
“They’re the ones that got the team to where they are right now and they should feel good about themselves.”
The Rams cracked the weekly rankings of Canada’s top ten university teams with nine votes from the decision committee after barely missing last week’s list with 15 votes, marking Ryerson’s first appearance on the list since holding the number eight spot during the week of Oct. 19, 2010, the first week of that season.
The ranking is a testament to the team’s highly impressive performance of late, which has seen the team win five of its past six games and climb to third place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division.
Immediately prior to those six contests, the Rams had forfeited two games while serving a suspension for alcohol consumption during a team road trip, an incident that the team has used as motivation during their recent surge.
“We know that it obviously brought big attention to us,” said Rams rookie Domenic Alberga. “And we know that as a team we need to bounce back and battle for this, and show everybody that we’re hockey players: we play hockey and we’re going to do everything that we can to win.”
Alberga is tied with linemate Jamie Wise for the OUA lead in points with 27 apiece, while fellow rookie Peter Hermenegildo leads all defencemen with 23 points. But those individual accomplishments, while impressive, are secondary to the team’s collective performance.
“What I’ve liked about the whole situation is that it’s a complete team effort here,” said Wise, now in his eighth season as Ryerson’s head coach.“Everybody’s had their contributions in some way, whether it’s big saves, whether it’s keeping pucks out of our net, whether it’s coming up with a good pass, a good hit, or scoring.”
The ranking is an early Christmas present for the Rams, who don’t play again until Jan. 3, when they visit Laurier, but the team is well aware of the fact that there is still much work to be done when they return.
“It feels good, we’ll enjoy it,” said Wise. “But once we get back and start preparing for the second half [of the season], it’s about preparation, it’s about playing our best game and looking at the next opponent we’ve got and preparing the best we can to be successful.”
Much of that preparation will be focused on strengthening the team’s defensive game, and the Rams are confident that once they do that, they’ll be in an even better position to make this season a special one.
“If we follow Mr. Wise’s systems and we play Ryerson hockey,” said Alberga. “We should be golden.”