By Hayden Godfrey
Although the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey program has never captured the Queen’s Cup, the trophy awarded to the Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) top team, the club and its players strongly believe that this could be the historic year.
Having edged out the division rival Brock Badgers and York Lions in back-to-back thrillers to close out the regular season, the Rams clinched the OUA West division title on Feb. 10.
Despite this, the team will face some tough competition as the first round of the playoffs, which will consist of a best of three series, beginning on Feb. 14. Every round up until the Queen’s Cup Finals consists of a best of three series, with the Cup Final going on Saturday, March 9.
The Rams will take on the Toronto Varsity Blues on Feb. 14 in their first-round matchup, a team they went 1-2 against during the regular season.
Should they be able to advance past the Blues, they will battle the winner of a series likely containing some combination of the Brock Badgers, Guelph Gryphons, Lakehead Thunderwolves and Laurier Golden Hawks.
Despite boasting the OUA’s second best record (20-5-3), the league’s leading scorer in Mathew Santos and points leader Matt Mistele, the Rams are still prudent and hardworking, says assistant coach Nathaniel Brooks.
“In the playoffs, most teams are gonna come out and try and pound us,” he told The Eye following the team’s shootout loss to the Varsity Blues on February 2. “We have to answer the bell.”
As the team’s captain, defenseman Alex Basso, prepares to enter his final playoff push, the team’s veterans, most notably goalie Taylor Dupuis and forwards Mistele and Devon Paliani, are gunning for a shot at the title.
Much of the team’s fate rests in their own hands, as the playoffs are, as Brooks alluded to, both unforgiving and relentlessly competitive. But with home ice advantage secured through at least the first round, the Rams are looking to make a push towards their first-ever provincial title.