Ridgebacks open men’s hockey playoffs against Ottawa

The Ontario Tech Ridgebacks storm the RMC net in OUA men's hockey action at the Campus Ice Centre Jan. 29. The Ridgebacks open the playoffs at home against Ottawa Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Photo credit: Courtesy of Ontario Tech athletics

Ontario Tech doesn’t have home ice advantage in its opening round men’s hockey playoff matchup against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, but that doesn’t bother Ridgebacks’ head coach Curtis Hodgins.

And under the unique Ontario University Athletics playoff format, Ontario Tech actually opens the best-of-three series at home before returning to Ottawa to finish the set.

“We’re not worried about playing on the road we’ve actually been better on the road this season,” said Hodgins at practice Tuesday, on the eve of the series opener, which begins at the Campus ice Centre Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Ontario Tech earned the sixth spot in the East Division after a 5-3 victory over McGill University Saturday.

The 13-12-3 Ridgebacks are the underdogs against the 17-7-2 Gee-Gees, who finished in third place in the East.

“We know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not going to be easy for them either, it’s going to be very competitive,” said Hodgins.

With Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary, in Ottawa, Hodgins has confidence in his team’s ability to play well on the road.

The Ridgebacks and Gee-Gees split their season series 1-1 with both teams winning their games at home.

The Ridgebacks won the first game in October 5-2 after allowing two goals in the first period and then going on to score five goals for the win.

In early December the Gee-Gees were able to pull off a victory in a defensive battle with a goal early in the third period and an empty-netter to cap off a 2-0 decision.

Given the nature of the schedule, the Ridgebacks fully understand the importance of the opener.

“Game one is at home so hopefully we can get off to a good start and then we get to two chances to win it on the road,” said Liam Hurley, a first-year forward for the Ridgebacks.

Hurley has registered five points with three goals and two assists in his rookie season.

“Anything can happen in a short series,” said Hurley.

Game 2 is Saturday and if a Game 3 is necessary, it goes Sunday.

Both games are scheduled to start at 3 p.m. at the Uottawa Minto Sports Complex.