Rams shutout Warriors, record first OUA win
WATERLOO, Ont.- Ryerson Athletics history was made on Saturday afternoon at the University of Waterloo. The Ryerson Rams women's hockey team, playing in their inaugural season, recorded their first-ever OUA regular season victory, blanking the Warriors 1-0 at Columbia Ice Fields.
With the game a scoreless stalemate heading into the third period, the Rams (1-2) were finally able to get on the board late in regulation thanks to Lauren McCusker's (Newmarket, Ont.) first goal of the season at 15:42.
Head Coach Lisa Jordan was thrilled about her team's first win, and in particular their defensive play over the last two games.
"It felt like whoever was going to get that first goal was going to win," she said. "Here we are in our third league game, and we've given up one goal in the last six periods."
After conceding six markers in their season opener, the Rams allowed just a single goal against the Toronto Varsity Blues last Sunday before shutting out the Warriors on Saturday.
Jordan has been adamant about the importance of the team's defensive systems, and is glad her team has been rewarded for their hard work and execution on the defensive end.
"I'm really happy for the players because they've bought in," she said.
Rookie Emma Crawley recorded her first shutout in net for the Rams, stopping all 21 of Waterloo's shots on goal. Crawley and the Rams' special teams were perfect on the penalty kill, thwarting all four of the Warriors power-plays.
Jordan commended Crawley on her play in the opening week and a half of the season, pointing out that the Herring Cove, N.S. product has been under the microscope the most for the women early in the season.
"She's 18 years old, and there will be highs and lows for her," said Jordan. "She struggled a bit in that first game (against York), but has really found herself in the last two."
The Rams' opportunity to record their first win looked to be on shaky ground when Victoria Arci (Woodbridge, Ont.) was sent to the penalty box with 1:51 left to go in the third. Led by captain Kyla Thurston (Ajax, Ont.), the Rams penalty kill was able to hold off Waterloo's late surge for the tying goal. Crawley also made a critical save point blank on a slap-shot from the slot with 25 seconds left to secure the Ryerson win.
"That (save) was huge for us," Jordan said. "I think the puck is like a beach ball for her right now."
Crawley has improved her save percentage to a sparkling 0.932 in three games so far this season.
Jordan believes getting over that hump by recording their first win will give her team more confidence moving forward.
"I think it gets their juices flowing," she said. "I feel like the players sense that they can compete and play like a collective group. What we're trying to do is make sure our teamwork is as good as it can be."
The Rams will return to George Bell Arena for a four-game home stand beginning next Friday night, where they will host the Guelph Gryphons at 7:00 p.m.