Ravens leap back into the fray

It's been covered beforehand for the Ottawa Sun and yours truly also took in the Carleton Ravens' happy return to CIS men's hockey last night, a 2-1 win over the rival Ottawa Gee-Gees in a front end of a season-opening home-and-home.

The game started on a down note when Andrew Gibbons, the captain of last season's Belleville Bulls of the OHL and one of Carleton's top recruits, injured his lower back after crashing into the boards 15 seconds into the game. He was taken to the hospital after a 35-minute delay and the official word is that he will be fine, but it was a worrying few minutes during the long delay.

After that, the teams delivered a game that conveyed Canadian university in all its gritty splendor -- low-scoring, but a lot of hits, plenty of jam from both teams. The CIS game is mostly played in cosy campus rinks, so a fan gets drawn in, feels the reverb from each heavy collision along the boards, rather than getting the distancing effect that's become commonplace in the NHL and is trickling down to the AHL major junior hockey. Basically, it's hockey with mostly major junior talent in a setting more akin to a small-town Junior B or senior amateur team, with a small following of diehards.

The tight schedule -- 26 games in the OUA -- is also a boon. Gibbons pointed out that during a conversation this week, noting, "It's a shortened season, so you should be able to get really excited for each game, be able to get pumped. In the OHL, you have three-game road trips and let's face it, you get tired. Here, you should be able to put forth an effort every time."

Defenceman Brad Good, the other Raven who wore a letter on his sweater last season as an alternate captain in Sault Ste. Marie, noted, "Every game is meaningful and intense. You don't have that third game where it's hard to maintain your intensity."

The Ravens and Gee-Gees lived up to that last night. They play again today at the Carleton University Ice House and two more times, so every game is going to really add something to the hockey scene in the city. It can do that too in a lot of other towns.

Ravens are ready to break the ice (Ottawa Sun)
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