Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams to celebrate Blue & Gold night at home opener

By Cara Gilhula

TORONTO - It can only be expected that Ryerson’s campus is going to be the place to be on Wednesday night, and covered in blue and gold. In celebration of the 2018-19 regular season beginning, the Rams men's hockey team will be hosting their beloved Blue and Gold Night!

Ryerson will host the Waterloo Warriors for their home opener on October 3rd. Puck drop will be at 7:15 p.m. at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The first 500 students will receive a free Ryerson Rams hat with their free entry.

In the wake of a successful 4-1 preseason start, the Rams are looking forward to what the season may bring.

After an early exit from the second round of playoffs last year, there are only a few goals in mind. The Rams are eager to be the “best team in the OUA West, earn a win from the Queen’s Cup, and take the program’s first-ever U SPORTS national championship,” says head coach, Johnny Duco. “We have seen some great strides by many of the players, and everyone seems fit and strong and ready to go, so we're excited to get started.”

The Rams have a strong, new roster, with eight new recruits and many of Ryerson’s fan favourite veterans returning. This means that the Rams are going to be seeing a greater depth to their team. After recruiting many of the rookies early, Duco recognizes the importance of skillful recruits and what they will bring to the team, such as size, adaptability, and overall, strong student-athletes.

Duco mentioned, however, “that for the most part, we are going to live and die with our veteran players. It’s going to be on them to take us where we want to go, and then fill the gaps later on.”

One veteran that Ryerson should be excited about in particular is third-year forward, Matt Mistele (Whitby, Ont). Mistele spent some time with the Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins at NHL rookie camps, but his education and love for hockey is what brought him to Ryerson. Unfortunately, he was only able to play in 18 games last season due to an injury versus Western in early January, 2018. This was a major loss for the Rams last season considering that Mistele was one of the top scorers for the Rams in 2016-17, and 2017-18 before his injury.

Good friend and Rams captain, Alex Basso (Toronto, Ont), recognized the effort it takes to come back after such a long time in recovery, but is excited to see how Mistele’s hard work will pay off this season.

As a fifth-year defenceman, Basso has seen the struggle the Rams have had to move forward, even with such a promising team. “The last five years we’ve had good team that could do it, and we have obviously come up short… We’ve always been saying that this is the group and I’m hoping that this is the actual group.”

Basso as well has seen some exceptional talent at NHL rookie camps from the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. Basso was also recently invited to the AHL tryout for the Toronto Marlies last week. As a result, he is confident when he says, “that this is the chance to get past the threshold and win the championship.”

“The last couple of years it’s been timing, and injuries, and maybe guys out of the lineup that you could have used and could have been the difference, or things don’t click for you at that time you need it to. But I think this year’s a good year even more so because we have a lot of balance, a group that can mesh well, and a lot of guys who are competing for ice time, which will elevate performances come playoff time.”

Basso agrees with Duco in regards to the rookies joining the team, in that they are providing them a better mix of size and speed. “Last year we really only had speed, opposed to size, so it will be interesting to see us a little bit tougher with our extra size this year.”

Overall, Basso knows the team is looking forward to the season, and believes that learning and growing as a team will be important for each game. “You can’t dwell on too many wins, and you can’t dwell on all of the losses. In order to move forward we have to go week by week because they’re not all the same.”

Last year the Rams went 16-9-3. Their opponent for Blue and Gold night, the Waterloo Warriors, were 9-15-4 in the 2017-18 season.

This means that the home opener on October 3rd against the Waterloo Warriors should not be a season opener that Ryerson Rams fans will want to miss. The festivities begin with the tailgate party at Pitman Quad from 4:00-6:00 before puck drop at 7:15 p.m. at the Mattamy Athletic where the Rams will open the regular season on Blue and Gold Night.

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