Photo by Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics

Rams ready for UNB and Back to School Bash

By Cara Gilhula

TORONTO - There has been an exciting buzz on Ryerson campus the last two weeks as students get underway with the new school year. Although, one of the best things about school being back is that hockey returns at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

After a successful showdown against the Carleton Ravens and an overtime win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Rams are ready to take their pre-season games to the next level.  

The Rams will be playing September 21st against the University of New Brunswick Reds for a pre-season match up, and Back to School Bash. 

The night starts early with a tailgate for the Back to School Bash at 4:00 p.m., located in the Pitman Quad off Church Street. At 6:00 p.m. everyone will make their way over to the Mattamy Athletic Centre, where they can get into the game for free! Puck drop will be at 7:15 p.m.

The Reds are ranked as one of the top teams in Canada from earning a U SPORTS national championship title in two of the last three years, and a total of five times in the last ten years. The Rams have been tough contenders in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings and are still looking to improve.

The Rams and Reds met last season during the holiday break and head coach Johnny Duco believes UNB really pushed the Rams to step up their game for the latter half of last year, and is excited to see how this early match up will set the stage for the rest of the season.  

“The UNB effect did play a factor for us last year. Hopefully again, we can keep that level of speed and intensity for the duration of the season,” says Duco.

Captain Alex Basso (Toronto, Ont.) is looking forward to the competition UNB is going to bring the Rams.  

Basso says, “The focus will be playing a fast game…. We’re working on our speed and have gotten a little bigger as a team, size wise, so we’re looking to a collective effort and hoping for a little better result.”  Last season the Rams went 0-1-1 against UNB.

Duco agrees and explains that the team motto this week is, “Fast and faster, as those are our two speeds if we are going to be able to keep up with them. They are one of the best teams in the country.”

This only means that the Back to School Bash is going to be an important and exciting game for fans to be at. Now in his fifth year, Basso understands the importance of these types of events to the team and Ryerson’s student environment.

“We’re hoping a lot of people show up. I think the attention of a good and well-known team coming into our building will create a good buzz before the season starts, and will hopefully get people out to home games for the rest of the season,” said Basso.

With eight new recruits, the Rams are waiting to finalize their roster and try out some different things this weekend.

Duco mentions, “Moving forward this week, we still have some decisions to make and there’s ice time and playing time on the line, as we have got guys with stuff to prove here.”  

As a result, for the fans who take advantage of the free admission, they can expect some surprises and hope for a better outcome.

“We’re hoping we can have two competitive games this weekend and that can propel us into our Concordia game, and then ready for the home opener against Waterloo on October 3rd,” said Duco.

“Overall, it will be good pre-season hockey, but anytime you’ve got fans in the crowd you play a little harder, and as the play goes back and forth, it adds to the intensity to the overall game. We hope we can put on a good show and people can see that the product on the ice is a really good one, and that they continue to come.”

The Rams will host UNB at the Mattamy Athletic Centre again on Saturday at 4:15 p.m.  

All tickets for the Back to School Bash are free.

For all promotional and game updates please visit our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

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