The Laurier Brantford Men’s Extramural hockey team knew they had a tough task in front of them. They needed to impress in their second tournament of the season. The squad travelled to London, home to Fanshawe College to test themselves against stiff and tough competition.

The team first matched up against University Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and it was a tough game to start the tournament off. The boys ended up dropping the decision after a hard fought battle.

They took a much-needed break after that first game before returning to the ice to face Mohawk. According to Blake Ralston, a defenseman on the team, the squad played much better this time around. “Our second game was a lot better than our first for sure. No contest actually. We came out a bit flat against UOIT, but corrected that mistake against Mohawk. We were able to control them in the key areas and eventually secure the win,” he said.

The final game of the day was against Redeemer Christian University College. “We played a solid game against Redeemer. It was extremely close through the entire thing. It was the shootout that finally ended our day. We thought we had a good chance of winning and the shots just didn’t go our way,” Ralston said.

“Overall in this tournament, we gave it a valiant effort, but we were just out-matched,” the defenseman from Fergus, Ontario said. “We played some good hockey throughout the three games. One positive I caught was easily our penalty kill. It was dynamic and top-notch for the entire tournament. One negative was our defensive zone coverage. We had trouble controlling the puck in our own zone as well as cleanly breaking out. It was a problem that we hope to address in upcoming tournaments,” said Ralston.

Ryan Smitheram had a unique vantage point during the games.  The former Laurier Brantford player and student acted as a coach for the games. “It was a very cool experience. I was able to take stock of all the players and keep an eye on exactly what was happening. I would definitely do it again if given the chance. It was nice to see all the guys again and to help them out wherever I was able to.”

When asked about what Ralston would like to see improve for the next set of games he said, “It would be nice to have a few more practices. It helps the guys bond and develop chemistry that can then be used on the ice.  Having a full team would be beneficial as well. If we get everyone out to the games, it will reflect once we hit the ice. When everyone is together, we gel a lot better. That’s what I’ve noticed.”

Laurier Brantford’s team has one big tournament coming up that everyone is extremely excited for. It’s the team’s final one of the year and it will be held on home ice at the Wayne Gretzky Center.

A clearly excited Ralston said, “I’m really excited to be able to play in front of our hometown fans. We’re definitely looking for lots of school spirit. Everyone should come out and watch. It will be a great experience for the boys and for the fans at our campus.”

With the final tournament on the horizon, Ralston feels a bit sad that it’s all coming to an end. “I’m in my final year at Laurier Brantford. It’s really tough to leave behind this team. I’ve been a part of it since my second year. It’s also not just me leaving, there’s a ton of veterans that will be playing in their final school tournament ever. It’s bittersweet to say the least. I’m sad to be moving on but I’ve had a great time and I’m looking forward to the next challenge.”