The Royal Military College Paladins of Kingston say this is the year they’re going to make the playoffs in the Ontario University Hockey Association.
The military cadets open a new season on Friday against the Trois Rivieres Patriotes. Game time at the Constantine Arena is 7 p.m.
“I know this program has struggled in the past but expectations are extremely high for this year’s team,” said rookie defenceman Cole Noble.
The 21-year-old cadet from Cochrane, Alta., says coach Richard Lim has done a tremendous job of recruiting and this is the year they expect it to pay off.
“We’ve got a solid squad from top to bottom,” said Noble, who played Junior A in British Columbia with the Victoria Grizzlies.
“We’ve got guys that can skate and guys to create offence. We’ve got a solid defensive core and two outstanding goaltenders in Joey May and Brad Van Schubert. Were taking the right steps in achieving our goal of making the playoffs.”
The Paladins are still a young group with only three players in their final year of eligibility.
Seamus Maguire, a fourth-year graduate, said he looks forward to tasting some post-season hockey. “We say the goal is the playoffs every year but this time it’s different.”
The 23-year-old forward from Victoria, B.C., says this year’s club is one of the strongest they’ve ever had.
“Our team plays hard for 60 minutes,” Maguire said.
“We’ve always been known as the hardest working team in the OUA and this year we hope to get the results we feel we deserve. This is one big family. There’s something incredibly special about being a hockey player at RMC. We have that military mentality. It’s a soldier’s background where everyone stands up for each other.”
RMC’s optimism stems from a strong recruiting class which includes Noble and two former junior stars from Kingston, Mitchel Larabie and Chris Paquette. Larabie played Junior A for the Smiths Falls Bears and Paquette scored 76 goals in the Ontario Hockey League with the Niagara Ice Dogs and Peterborough Petes.
They also benefit from the return of Riley Brandt. He missed all of last season with a knee injury. In 2017-18, the sniper from Trail, B.C., scored 21 goals and was named the OUA rookie of the year.
The Paladins won their only exhibition game. Chris Paquette scored two goals as RMC beat the Queen’s Gaels, the defending OUA champions, 3-1.