Some would consider the NCAA, CHL and USHL to be the best leagues to play in that aren’t on a fully professional level.
The UOIT Ridgebacks men’s hockey team was busy this past offseason, scouting and recruiting from the NCAA, CHL and USHL. The Ridgebacks were able to add strong defensive depth bringing in Alex Yuill, formerly of the Belleville Bulls (OHL), and Keaton Lubin, a former member of the Calgary Hitmen (WHL).
The Ridgebacks also had success with adding forwards Ben Blasko (Nazareth, NCAA), Loren Ulett (Kingston, OHL), and Mark Pettacio who played in the USHL last season but is also a former member of the Oshawa Generals from 2010-2012.
Players coming over from many top leagues around North America need to make adjustments to their playing style. “The difference is playing against guys who have been playing a lot longer than guys from the NCAA, the competition here (UOIT) is much tougher,” explained Ben Csiernik, UOIT’s second year goaltender originally from Colby College (NCAA Division III).
Second year head coach Craig Fisher is responsible for bringing in these new recruits. The Ridgebacks were able to add a tremendous amount of talent to his roster and has turned the UOIT men’s hockey program around, Fisher says.
“Adding players with as much experience as they have makes my job easier,” says Fisher. He also says this is his dream job and he wants to make this UOIT men’s hockey program as big as he can and these new additions to this team are a big step in that direction.
UOIT scored 74 goals while allowing 106 goals in 26 games last season. UOIT’s 74 goals had them ranked 17 out of 19 teams in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA). The additions on the blueline for the Ridgebacks will be instrumental in their success this season. Lubin plays a physical style of game while Yuill provides speed and good puck movement, but both can shut down opposing offences, Fisher says.
Petaccio wasn’t know for his offensive prowess in the OHL but when he made the transition to the USHL he recorded 22 goals and 48 points in 53 games split between the Des Moines Buccaneers and the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Fisher believes he can make the UOIT men’s hockey program one of the biggest and best in Canada.