RIDGEBACK ROUNDUP – Oshawa women earn five OUA awards; curlers advance to knockout round

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Published March 22, 2022 at 9:23 am

Treyton Cowell of the men’s curling team and Caleigh Blake of the dance team have been named the Ontario Tech athletes of the week for the period ending March 20.

Cowell, a game development and entrepreneurship major, was key in the Ridgebacks winning the tiebreaker to qualify for the quarter-final in the pre-game draw to the button team total. As a front-end player, his strong sweeping and judge of weight was also crucial to the confidence of the skip on his last stone, which was a difference maker in the extra end win against Trent when skip Gavin Hinton drew the four-foot for the win.

He also became the first Ridgeback curler to receive an OUA award, being named a second team all-star. His individual performance also helped Ontario Tech reach the OUA quarter-final for only the second time in program history, last happening in 2015.

Blake, a commerce major, is in her first year with the varsity dance team and has demonstrated strong work ethic and great skill to help her team achieve top placements.

Men’s hockey season ends in second round

The Ontario Tech men’s hockey team had their season come to a close with a 6-3 loss to the four-time national champion UQTR Patriotes on Saturday night in the Ridgebacks second Round 2 appearance in program history.

UQTR and McGill will now meet in the east final, playing for a spot in the Queen’s Cup.

Ontario Tech (11-14) was down 5-0 through two periods, battling back in the third with goals by Andrew Suriyuth, Jack Patterson and Matt Barron.

Mathieu Boucher led the Patriotes scoring with two goals.

Women’s hockey program earns five OUA awards

For the first time at Ontario Tech, the women’s hockey program has five OUA award recipients.

Captain Megan Johnston became the first Ridgeback to win the OUA most sportsmanlike award, while head coach Justin Caruana is the first to win co-coach of the year.

“It’s an honour to be recognized amongst your peers and so many amazing coaches who could have easily won this award,” said Caruana. “This award truly isn’t about me though. I owe this all to our players, coaches, support staff and university. Without them this would not have been possible. They need the recognition as well.”

Brooke Vial and Natalie Wozney were both named second team all-stars. Wozney, a first team all-star in 2019-20, finished shortened 12-game 2021-22 season with a goal and five assists.

In goal, Vial started five games for the Ridgebacks, posting a 3-2-0 record. She was also fourth in the OUA with a 1.40 goals-against average and second with a .960 save percentage.

Zoe McGee was named to the all-rookie team, finishing her campaign with a 2-5-0 record over seven games. Her two victories were both shutouts.

“I am extremely proud and happy for all our award winners,” said Caruana. “They all put in so much time and effort and great to see them get recognized for their accomplishments. It’s great for our program and university.”

Curlers eliminated at OUA championships

The Ontario Tech men’s curling team was eliminated from the OUA championship on Saturday night by the host Guelph Gryphons 8-3.

While the Ridgebacks were eliminated from medal contention, this marked the second time in program history that Ontario Tech has advanced past the round robin portion of the championship.

They opened the three-day tournament with a pair of losses, an extra end defeat against the Laurier Golden Hawks and a 7-3 loss to the Carleton Ravens, before rebounding on Saturday. The team picked up an extra end win over Trent to open the day, followed by a 5-4 victory over the Algoma Thunderbirds after stealing one in the eighth end to clinch the victory.

“Overall, the weekend was a tremendous success,” said head coach Mike Stauffer. “For a team that just started playing together in October, they have come a long way in a short time. Qualifying for the quarter-finals was the initial goal, but I know they are disappointed on not making it to Sunday. They realized in the first game, taking a strong Laurier team to an extra end, that they could compete with every team there.”

Ridgeback alumnus signs AHL deal with Ontario Reign

Ontario Tech Ridgeback alumnus, Loren Ulett has signed his first American Hockey League (AHL) contract with Los Angeles Kings affiliate Ontario Reign.

The 27-year-old Port Perry native was a member of the Ridgebacks from 2015-18. Playing 69 games over his three seasons, the commerce student finished with 18 goals and 33 points. He is the first Ridgeback to sign a contract with an AHL club.

“Playing for the Ridgebacks really reignited my love for the game,” he said. “When I initially was contacted about playing with the Ridgebacks, I had just finished my 20-year-old season in the OJHL because I was not offered an over-age spot in Kingston (OHL) and was released from the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). By that point, I started questioning if I even wanted to play anymore.”

Looking back at his experience at Ontario Tech, he said that several coaches and staff played a role in reigniting his passion.

“Craig Fisher reached out to me and fueled my excitement to play again. Craig always believed in my game and thought I was capable of playing in the AHL,” he said. “I was able to grow as a person and player year-after-year by going to Elite Training Systems (ETS). Through working on the ice with all the coaches (Craig, Curtis, Brad, John, Jamie, Paul, Rod); doing rehab with athletic therapy staff (Jess, Saul, Alison) whenever I had an injury or just questions regarding physical improvements; the staff at the rink (Tim, Chris, Matt, Tyler) who assisted with all the behind-the-scenes elements that people rarely get to see; as well as my teammates that constantly challenged me to be the best person and player possible.”

Ulett was notified mid-game, playing for Kansas City Mavericks in the ECHL, that he’d been called to play for the Reign, where he is filling a spot on a PTO (professional tryout contract) and is looking to earn a full-time spot on the roster. During his time with Kansas City so far (2018-22), he has played in 160 games with 18 goals and 30 points.

“I’m one of four players on the Reign without an NHL contract, so I’ve had an unconventional career path to get here, which makes me feel even more grateful to be in this position. I’m going to do everything I can to help the team and continue to enjoy the moment.”

“The OUA and U SPORTS are majorly slept on when it comes to pursuing your hockey goals, while continuing your education and that’s a shame,” he added. “I really believe that it is one of the best places for athletes to continue to hone their athletic skills while earning their degree and broadening their horizons. Luckily as of late, I have seen many more U SPORTS, OUA and Ridgebacks players get an opportunity at various pro levels in hockey and I hope that this is a trend that continues.”

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