TORONTO, ONT – Ask any coach in the OUA, and they’ll tell you just how close the conference is in every game. Whether it’s the defending Queen’s Cup champion UQTR Patriotes or a team that has historically struggled like the RMC Paladins, there’s seldom an easy night in OUA hockey.
Two weeks into the 2022-23 season, their testament is proving true, with only the Nipissing Lakers entering week 3 without a win
As the OUA men’s hockey season drifts farther away from opening night, 49 Sports looks at two main takeaway’s from this week’s action.
MHKY: RMC matches last year’s win total
From preseason, it was clear that the 2022-23 RMC Paladins were not just going to be also-rans like they had been in recent seasons. However, two weeks into the season, the Paladins have matched their win total, two, from last season.
Always a hard-working team, the Paladins have found an offensive string to their fiddle this season, scoring 12 goals through four games and grabbing a pair of tight wins in a 7-6 victory over McGill last week and a close 3-2 win against Carleton this week.
The tricky thing for RMC is pushing on from a positive result to the next game. This weekend, their Carelton upset win was followed by a 9-1 thrashing at the feet of the uOttawa Gee-Gees.
Led by Chris Paquette, Austin Saint and Josh Spratt, all at two goals and an assist, the Paladins start games with ferocity and continue to attack until the final stages. The place they’ll need to work on, however, is defensive focus in the final frames.
If it weren’t for goaltender Joey May, the Paladins would be in a far different position. In the two wins, he’s stopped 95 shots, many of them from high-scoring areas; it’s simply not a sustainable clip for a top-6 finish and playoff run.
Head Coach Richard Lim knows how to get a message across to the group, and there’s some natural talent with the Paladins this season. But, more so than in past years, they have a chance to make some noise, and significantly if they can improve their 61 percent penalty kill.
MHKY: Waterloo Warriors hit their stride through veterans
Sometimes, it takes a veteran star to turn things around. For the Waterloo Warriors, it was fifth-year Jacob Cascagnette taking the reigns on Saturday night, turning a 1-0 deficit against the undefeated TMU Bold into a 2-1, first win for the Warriors.
After three straight losses to Brock, Guelph and Western, morale was fledging for the Warriors, and they needed the boost they got on Saturday night. While Friday showcased a seemingly disinterested effort in an 8-4 loss to Western, the Warriors looked invigorated in Saturday’s game, not flailing under constant TMU pressure.
Rookie Cole Fraser also picked up his game, as he linked up with Cascagnette twice in the win, improving his season stat line to one goal and two assists. His goal, scored the night before the TMU win in the loss to Western.
In net, the Warriors have been solid, with Dan Murphy making 30 saves on 31 shots in the win over TMU. Yet, the significant struggle holding them back from improved results is a fledging powerplay, as they’ve converted only once on 15 attempts.
Although a single win in four games might not be how the Warriors drew things up for the start of the OUA season, they got themselves out of a rut against what was an undefeated Bold team.
Now, it’s about keeping the momentum rolling into next weekend and games against Lakehead and York, two teams that have shown to be very beatable in the first two weeks of the season. If all goes well, the once-winless Warriors could be at .500 in no time.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
49 Sports’ Men’s Skater of the Week: Jacob Cascagnette, Waterloo (2 goals, 1 assist in 2 games)
49 Sports’ Men’s Goalie of the Week: Jett Alexander, Toronto (31 save shutout v Western)
UPCOMING GAMES TO WATCH
M: Oct. 26 – Guelph Gryphons @ TMU Bold (6:00 pm EST)
M: Oct. 29 – Queen’s Gaels @ McGill Redbirds (7:00 pm EST)