Ridgebacks start season off strong

The UOIT men’s hockey team new tactic of aggravating their opponents has brought them some early success this season.

With a 2-2-1 record, Craig Fisher, head coach of the Ridgebacks, says the team has played well through its first couple of games.

“It’s nice to get some wins early,” said Fisher. “We have definitely made some progress, but there’s to be lots of ups and downs.”

The new style of gritty play Fisher likes to incorporate into the team’s game plan is a factor for the good start to the season.

“We really want to frustrate our opponents,” said Fisher. “Force them into a game they don’t want to play.”

Fisher has been impressed with the play of his goaltender Brendan O’Neill in the early stage of the season.

“The biggest thing about him is that he never stops battling,” said Fisher. “He never gives up on pucks and he owns his mistakes.”

UOIT has averaged more than five penalties per game, but Fisher explains discipline is something they have been focusing on.

“It’s been area that we’ve really addressed at the beginning of the year,” said Fisher. In the two losses against Queen’s and Carleton, the team ran into penalty trouble but Fisher believes it’s nothing too major.

“It was more careless penalties than retaliatory,” said Fisher.

The Ridgebacks are dealing with upper-body injuries to forward Luke VanMoerkerke and defenceman Jason Shaw.

“Those are two pretty big guys and two pretty big losses,” said Fisher. “That’s a part of hockey, we just have to deal with it.”

Ridgebacks’ other goalie, Colin Dzijacky who has missing from the lineup for undisclosed reasons, has returned.

The Ridgebacks will be playing the Western Mustangs tomorrow, and the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday. Both games are at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa at 7:30 p.m.