(Liam Fox is a Grade 11 student at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby and is doing a co-op placement with Durham College’s Journalism – Mass Media program.)
The Ontario Tech Ridgebacks men’s hockey team has only won six of its first 18 games, but that doesn’t tell the complete story.
“Our team is considerably better than what our record shows,” says Curtis Hodgins, Ridgebacks head coach, of his team’s 6-9-3 record. He says the Ridgebacks are a tough team to beat on an every game basis.
Three of Ontario Tech’s losses have been in overtime and another three were one-goal setbacks.
Hodgins also says the Ridgebacks have had one of the most difficult schedules in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) league thus far, with the next ten games being a little easier.
Despite their record, the Ridgebacks are tied for fifth in the OUA East with 15 points with Concordia, Queen’s and Nipissing. RMC sits outside a playoff spot with 12 points.
Hodgins describes his team as hard-working, willing to learn and tough, but feels there is room for improvement.
Hodgins says the Ridgebacks biggest weakness has been on offence, specifically scoring on power play opportunities.
“We are not scoring enough goals, which means we are often short one goal,” says Hodgins.
He also praised his team’s defence and goaltending.
“We don’t give up a ton, we are in every single hockey game, we don’t get outplayed very often here.”
This year’s also different from previous years for the Ridgebacks in regards to the makeup of the roster. The Ridgebacks have 10 rookies and Hodgins says it has been tough managing playing time.
He also says the team has remained quite healthy through the season and that it has resulted in a lot of players wanting ice time.
Although on a four-game losing streak entering the holiday break, Hodgins feels the team has improved greatly, noting again the losses have been close decisions.
“Game one to 18 there has been a huge difference,” says Hodgins, adding the team’s chemistry on and off the ice has been much better.
So what can you expect from the Ridgebacks in their final 10 regular season games, which starts Jan. 9 in Sudbury against Laurentian?
Hodgins says ultimately they hope to get back to a .500 winning percentage and build momentum going into the playoffs – and he feels they can get it done.