By: Stephanie Coratti, GuelphStorm.com
Cedric Ralph is not one for attention.
Although, attention is exactly what the Guelph Storm sophomore has been getting with his surprise breakout season that has seen the forward score more goals than he registered points as a rookie in 2016-17.
The surprise element comes from many having Ralph ‘on the bubble’ heading into the team’s 2017 training camp.
“It really didn’t affect me at all,” Ralph said, acknowledging that social media held a lot of opinions regarding his status heading into this season. “I didn’t really look at that stuff so to be honest, I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to know.”
Never overly outspoken, and always seemingly unphased, Ralph’s quiet demeanour is a perfect mix of confidence and modesty.
“Either way, I knew the amount of effort I put in, in the summer and the experience I had from the year before,” Ralph continued. “I knew that if I trusted in the amount of work I put in, and the way I’ve been playing hockey my whole life, that things were going to work out.”
That discreet confidence can arguably be traced back to Craig Ralph, Cedric’s dad, who played major junior in the QMJHL himself.
“My dad has been through that experience,” Ralph said of his dad’s transition from minor hockey to the OHL. “He knew what to expect and was able to teach me how to start that process.”
The best piece of advice from his dad, Ralph recalled, circles back to trusting your abilities.
“Trust my instinct… and no matter how big you are on the ice, it will never affect your game play.”
Advice that has seen the five-foot-nine, 165-pound centre push through the Peterborough Minor Petes system since beginning to play the game at age four, and on to a level he always knew was attainable.
“I always watched the [Peterborough Petes] growing up, so to be able to play in the same league, it’s my biggest accomplishment,” Ralph said of what he’s most proud of.
With Ralph’s proudest accomplishment, though, comes his biggest challenge to date.
“It’s sticking with it mentally,” Ralph offered. “When you have ups and downs, to always stay with it… it can be tough, but it’s worth it.”
A mentality that undoubtedly saw the 1999-born forward come out of a tough season for the Storm in 2016-17, and onto being one of the team’s top three goal scorers the next.
“I think it’s a bit of both,” Ralph said when asked if his personal success has been a surprise this season. “My whole life, I’ve always strived to be that offensive forward that’s able to produce, but to do it in the Ontario Hockey League was a bit of a surprise.”
“But it’s also knowing the player I’ve been able to be my whole life, and the hard work I put in,” Ralph continued. “The year I’m having is just a reflection of that hard work.”
That hard work does go back to teammates for Ralph – teammates like Barret Kirwin, who paired with number 14, have often become a go-to dynamic duo for the Storm.
“We play a similar way on the ice, so it’s fun to talk about things and know certain plays that we want to make – we can always agree with each other,” Ralph said of his linemate. “It’s always fun playing with a guy you play similarly with.”
Beyond the team, however, Ralph doesn’t hesitate in crediting the very two who have been there from the beginning.
“My parents,” Ralph said on who he thanks the most for getting him to this point. “My dad and my mom have always been there to support me, and even when things were going rough, they were always there to tell me to keep going, that hard work will always pay off and to trust your instincts, and if you believe that you can do what you can do, most of the time, you can.”
Words of advice that certainly define Cedric Ralph.