VANCOUVER, BC – For the first time since 2019-20, a full-season schedule is slated for OUA men’s hockey. In 2022-23, teams will play 26 or 27 games, significantly more than the 14-20 played in an abbreviated 2021-22 season.
While a full slate returns, the cross-division play does not. Instead, teams will be limited to their eight and nine division opponents for the regular season before crossing over in the semifinal round of the playoffs. The West features ten teams, with the East hosting nine.
The season may not start until Oct. 13, but there are a few games that jump off the page.
1. Carr-Harris Cup returns | Feb. 2
The historic Carr-Harris Cup rivalry between the Queen’s Gaels and RMC Paladins re-launches on Feb. 2, as they battle for the trophy for the first time since 2020. While the game doesn’t hold any more importance on the standings, the 35th edition of the trophy will invigorate the two teams and their fanbases ahead of potential playoff runs.
Introduced in 1986, the Carr-Harris Cup game commemorates the first-ever hockey rivalry, launched when Queen’s and RMC played each other with a square puck on Kingston’s harbour ice in 1886. Queen’s leads the series with 21 wins compared to RMC’s 11, but the gap in major junior skill is always narrowed when the cup is on the line.
While the game always offers excitement, it was in some of the most engaging years of its history the last time it was played, with a record 4,121 fans packing into the Leon’s Centre to cheer on their respective schools. With minimal student engagement activities throughout the last three years, that attendance could be broken in 2023.
If you’re in Kingston, circle this one on your calendars. It’s also the lone Queen’s v RMC game to take the ice at the Leon’s Centre, the local OHL arena.
2. TMU v Toronto and McGill v Concordia | Oct. 20
While the Carr-Harris Cup rivalry will have to wait until the second half of the season, Oct. 20 offers two tantalizing rivalries on the same night, with the McGill Redbirds hosting the Concordia Stingers and the Toronto Varsity Blues paying a visit to Toronto Metropolitan.
The teams will need their best in the second week of the season as they take on feisty rivalries. In particular, the Downtown Toronto rivalry relaunches early in the year, after some heated late-season games with a young and struggling Varsity Blues team last season.
With new players on both sides in Toronto, including a slew of former Kingston Frontenacs teammates, that game and the one in Montreal shouldn’t disappoint. There aren’t many midweek days in the regular season that stand out, but Oct. 20 has a chance to be memorable.
3. Brock opens at Canada Games Park | Oct.15
Seldom does a new arena make its way to the OUA, but the Brock Badgers introduce a new rink in 2022, with Canada Games Park becoming their home, as they leave the infamously cold and off-campus Seymour-Hannah Centre.
The Badgers men’s hockey team opens on the road to Waterloo but welcomes fans to the new rink on Oct. 15 when they take on the Western Mustangs in the second game of their season. After finishing as Queen’s Cup runner-ups and qualifying for the U CUP in 2022, the new arena comes at a perfect time with an exciting, hard-to-play-against group looking to take the next step this season.
Although the performance on the ice is essential early in the season, this opener will be special, with the rink now adjacent to Brock University’s main campus, making the hockey teams much more accessible to a sports-crazed student body.
4. Welcome back, the Colonel Bye Classic | Jan. 22
The Colonel By Classic might not be as storied as the Carr-Harris Cup, but the rivalry between the Carleton Ravens and uOttawa Gee-Gees is bound to bring excitement with the trophy back on the line. While the two schools face each other several times in 2021-22, the trophy went unawarded, and the showcase game never happened. So with the reintroduction of the event, there’s bound to be a hard-fought affair.
Much like the Carr-Harris in Kingston, the Colonel By Classic makes its way to the home of the Ottawa 67’s, offering a unique stage for the capital city rivalry. The Gee-Gees played a few games at the OHL rink last season, but none will match the excitement surrounding this one.
The two sides meet in November, but the showcase game hits the ice on Jan. 22, with puck drop at 4:00 pm ET.
5. OUA Decision Day | Feb. 11
On the final day of the OUA Men’s Hockey regular season, 14 of the 19 teams will hit the ice, with 10 of them playing concurrently. With just six teams in each division qualifying for the playoffs in 2022-23, these games could be elimination-worthy for some as they look to gain final points. Additionally, many matchups pit teams of similar levels against each other, making the points all the more valuable.
While a few games will undoubtedly be worthless at this point in the season, the potential for do-or-die games for multiple programs makes the season’s final day one of the most exciting.