By Daniel Rocchi
If experience is the best teacher, then Keevin Cutting could be called a professor.
Having won an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) championship and gone to a NHL rookie camp already under his belt, the 22-yearold defenceman is hoping his experience can help the Rams to a championship of their own.
“I was put in a position of leadership in Owen Sound,” says Cutting, who captained the Owen Sound Attack to the second round of the OHL playoffs in 2013 and was a member of the championship team in 2011. “I feel that [I can] bring that leadership that I’ve learned to Ryerson.”
Cutting played five seasons in Owen Sound, setting an Attack franchise record for games played with 374 while distinguishing himself as a shutdown defender.
For Rams coach Graham Wise, that kind of mileage makes Cutting a valuable veteran presence.
“He’s got a lot of experience at winning and a lot of experience at playing the game,” says Wise.”When you can pick up what we consider to be a blue-chipper with his calibre, it’s a great asset to your program.”
No longer eligible to play in the OHL, Cutting spent last year at the University of New Brunswick, where he played 27 games for the Varsity Reds during the 2013-14 season. He enjoyed his time in Fredericton, but decided to pursue his business management degree at Ryerson the following September instead.
But not before adding another notch in his belt.
Cutting attended the Florida Panthers rookie camp this fall, competing against other prospects for a chance to earn an NHL contract.
He wasn’t able to win a job with the Panthers, but like he has with every situation in his hockey career, Cutting used the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow as a player.
“I learned how to be a pro, on and off the ice,” he says. “Nutritional habits, work habits; the biggest thing I took away from Florida was to see where other guys are at and where I can be in the future.”
Cutting grew up in Bracebridge, Ont., where his father built Muskoka cottages for NHL legends like Wendel Clark, Eric Lindros and Steve Yzerman.
Cutting recalls fondly the moment that Yzerman became his favourite player – the legend told his parents to bring Cutting with them over to his cottage to see the Stanley Cup after the Detroit Red Wings’ victory in the 2002 finals.
At six-foot-two and 190 pounds, Cutting wants to add size and speed to his game, and considers it the next step in his development.
But it hasn’t stopped him from thriving with the Rams.
Playing on a pairing with freshman Alex Basso, who amassed 158 points in 280 OHL games over five seasons with Belleville, Sarnia and London, Cutting ranks second amongst Ryerson defencemen and seventh on the team with 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in 20 games. Basso leads all Rams defencemen and sits third on the team with 21 points (2 G, 19 A) in 19 games.
“I played against him for four years, he was always a good player,” says Basso, who also has classes with his fellow business management major. “He’s got a good shot and I think we work well together.”
The pairing of Basso and Cutting has been instrumental in Ryerson’s regular-season success, with the Rams currently sitting fourth in the 10-team OUA west division. With only seven games left in the regular season, Cutting and the Rams are looking to the post-season.
“We have the team,” says Cutting. “We’ve lost some games that we should have won, [but] we have the talent, we have the work ethic. Coming down the stretch here, we can put together a streak and we’re going to be a top contender.”