By Hayden Godfrey
The Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team was a treat to watch in 2018-19.
It’s hard to pinpoint just what made the team so special. Of course, the lethal duo of Matt Mistele and Mathew Santos, who were first and second in points in the OUA, helped quite a bit. But so too did the consistency of goaltender Taylor Dupuis and the strong set of dependable blueliners who kept opposing scorers in check all season long.
The Rams led the OUA in goals and power play percentage, while also ranking in the league’s top five in power play goals and shots. With a regular season record of 20-6-2, the Rams won the OUA (Ontario University Athletics) West division, narrowly beating out the Brock Badgers for the division title.
Starting the season with four straight wins, they dominated early opponents, securing key victories against Brock, the York Lions and UQTR Patriotes.
Though they did endure a tough mid-season stretch—losing four in a row in December/January—they bounced back after the break, beating the Waterloo Warriors, Laurier Golden Hawks, Western Marauders and Windsor Lancers in quick succession to pave way for a productive final month.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Rams downed a tough University of Toronto Varsity Blues team in back-to-back games to advance to the second round. It was that second round against the Guelph Gryphons, however, that gave them the most trouble.
After falling flat in the first game, the Rams managed to take Game 2 in Guelph in heroic fashion. Though they fought hard in an emotionally thrilling Game 3 at Mattamy Athletic Centre, they narrowly fell by a score of 4-3, ending their playoff run.
Locker room staples like Mistele, Santos or Devon Paliani could be candidates to wear the captain’s “C” next season
“I’m proud of the way we battled,” head coach Johnny Duco told The Eye following the team’s elimination against the Guelph Gryphons. “If you look at it from September until [February], we were one of the best teams in the country”.
For the fourth straight season, the Rams were eliminated in the second round of the OUA’s Queen’s Cup playoffs. Despite boasting a talented and dangerous roster, the team was unable to come through in big moments.
There’s reason to believe that the program will come back in 2019-20 with the same prowess that made them so effective this season. Likely looking for new recruits to replace Alex Basso, John Carpino, Vince Figliomeni and Daniel Poliziani, all of whom are graduating, the program will probably turn to emphasize younger and newer players next year.
Basso, in particular, will be difficult to replace, seeing as he was the team’s captain this season. Locker room staples like Mistele, Santos or Devon Paliani could be candidates to wear the captain’s “C” next season.
Regardless, the Ryerson men’s hockey program will likely be one of the province’s most intriguing and exciting programs to watch in 2019-20, and they’ll look to improve on their finish heading into the future.