The UOIT men’s hockey team has begun the tenth season in program history after coming off a season to remember.
Campus Ice Centre hosted the first home game for the men this past Friday as they defeated the Laurentian Voyageurs 4-3 in overtime. The Ridgebacks have three wins and no losses yet this season after defeating the Ottawa Gee-Gees 3-0 and the McGill Redmen 5-2 away from home.
Ridgeback fans got to witness history last season as the men’s team achieved the most wins in program history and also made it to the second round of the OUA playoffs. They were swept by the the UQTR Patriotes in the best-of-three series.
But Jake Logan, in his final year of eligibility, says he’s expecting big things from his team this season.
“Our team is a lot better than it’s ever been. We’re looking to break last year’s winning record and go deeper into the playoffs, I’m proud to be a part of it,” he says.
UOIT is getting noticed around the league. The men are nationally ranked in Canada for the first time, sitting ninth on the CIS (Canadian University Sport) top ten list.
Cameron Yuill, who took over the captaincy from Luke VanMoerKerke this season, says although last season was great for the program, he hopes to see his team improve and get even better this year.
“Last season was exciting to be a part of,” he says. “Our goal this year is to go all the way and win it all, it put us on the map and earned respect around the league and respect from our school too.”
The Ridgebacks lost two of their best forwards last year in Jesse Stoughton and former captain Luke VanMoerkerke but welcome two new forwards into the lineup this season with first year players Malik Johnson and Jack Patterson.
Players around the dressing room speak highly of their second-year head coach Curtis Hodgins. He took over from former head coach Craig Fisher at the start of last season after Fisher was forced to step down because of ongoing issues related to a severe concussion in his playing days.
Logan describes Hodgins as a “real coach,” something he says they haven’t had since he’s been here.
“I knew this team was going into the right direction when Curtis took over. I played for him back in junior. He holds everyone accountable. He makes sure no one is bigger than the team like past coaches have,” says Logan.
Hodgins says he’s happy with the process and hopes to build off what the team did last year on a consistent basis. The second-year head coach has brought accountability to his players and has shown them how to play better with and without the puck.
“You have to start making steps at some point. We want to keep building the program, we don’t want to take steps back so this is another important year to keep moving forward,” says Hodgson.
The Ridgebacks next game will be against the RMC Paladins on Oct. 19 at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa.