Kingston, ON- You only get one shot to make a first impression. For the RMC Paladins, they are getting that shot as they take on the OUA Playoffs for the first time since 2006. But they are not the normal “first-timers” as the school is far different than any other in Canada.
The Paladins have not made an appearance in the playoffs since the re-brand of CIS to U Sports, but have appeared in the OUA post-season before.
It has been a long road to get to this point, but one that all of the university’s fans and members can be very proud of. Hockey has long been a staple sport at Canada’s military school and has garnered a decent following from the student body. However, despite the sport and team’s success internally, it has always faced struggles against provincial competition.
RMC operates differently than other schools. It requires students to study and pursue militaristic courses alongside regular academics thoughout their time at the school, while also serving the main purpose of feeding high-level military members to defend Canada. It takes a certain type of person to fit the mould of such a noble task. Unfortunately, it’s that mould that does not run parallel to that of many hockey players, making it is much easier to attract an elite-level hockey player to study psychology in Toronto than it is to recruit them to militaristic ambitions at RMC.
In speaking with 49, RMC head coach Richard Lim explained some of the factors which his team faces that hold them back against other OUA competition.
“All of the classes here are mandatory, so there is no pre-game nap these players can have like at some other schools,” said Lim, who also makes sure the players follow the school guidelines. He also spoke about how many of the players have mandatory military training that can sometimes overlap with scheduled hockey time, leaving some players out of games or practice. This again is not something that is relevant at other schools.
Even with all of those differences from their OUA competition, the Paladins still managed to find their way into the playoffs this year. So how did they do it? “We have a tough team, we may not be the most skilled, but no one is going to outwork us,” said Lim. I for one can agree with his statement, as I’ve yet to see a team as regularly hard-working as RMC this season.
The hardworking mentality is something that is prevalent in the type of player the school gets. If a student has the military on his mind, there is a very good chance that he will be one of the hardest workers around. Not only will he be a hard worker for himself, but for the good of his teammates, who are the same men he could one day be alongside in war.
Hockey, however, is not war. We use the terms “battle” often enough that hockey can be described as combative, but it’s not. In the end, it is a sport, where life and death are rarely in the question. Despite this, the quote from William Shakespeare’s Henry V “We few we happy few we band of brothers,” perfectly fits with the mentality of the Paladins throughout this season.
While no player is king in the locker room, the brotherly tendencies can be noticed on the ice. This is partly due to a very strong group of leaders. Lim spoke about these men, saying “[Matthew] Michie is the best captian I could ask for, he always makes sure all of our guys have nothing to worry about,” before continuing on to highlight how fourth year’s Seamus Macguire and Matthew Muller have become leaders despite not having a letter on their jersey.
All of the successes above, as well as a strong recruiting class ahead of this season give the Paladins a hope that they can take down Carleton. also adding them is the fact that they defeated the Army/West Point Hockey team earlier in the year, the first time since 2003 that they had done so.
It is this leadership, the band of brothers thinking and momentum that the Paladins will harness to their advantage in their opening round of the playoffs.
“We have done well with our hard work this year, so we are going to do it again!” Those words, straight from Lim highlight the very essence of this team. They know who they are, and are the best version of who they want to be. While taking on the OUA’s best team in Ottawa may be a hefty task, if there is any team who is prepared for the clash in the capital, it’s the Paladins.
Cover Photo- Reuben Polansky