7 p.m. at Esther Shiner Stadium (5720 Bathurst St.)
Ryerson Rams: 7-1-6 Goals For: 21 Goals Against: 9 Points: 27
Laurentian Voyageurs: 4-7-3 Goals For: 11 Goals Against: 19 Points: 15
Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Game: 0-0 @ Birchmount Stadium
The Rams went on a record setting 13-game unbeaten streak this season largely because of their commitment to defence. The Rams allowed the second fewest goals in the OUA (9) one behind the Carleton Ravens and York Lions. While Ryerson can put the ball in the back of the net, their first priority will be to keep the ball out of theirs.
With the return of all-star captain Michael Jan and Alex Braletic, the Rams enter the post-season with a healthy squad.
While Ryerson's starters are a dangerous bunch, they boast a deep formidable bench. Adrian Mancini scored four goals this season off the bench and scored a career-high five in 2010. Nigerian native Peter Haastrup provides a big body and can be a powerful offensive presence and Luke Jan and Sebastian Novais provide reliable support for the Rams. The Ryerson coaching staff gave their substitutes extended playing time over the weekend to prepare for the playoff run.
Playing at Esther Shiner Stadium the Rams are technically the home team on Wednesday night. However, they haven't played a single game at Esther Shiner all season (they practice there occasionally) and rotated between three home stadiums all season. Located at Finch and Bathurst, Esther Shiner isn't exactly close to Ryerson and the players say it feels more like a neutral field, than a home one.
Need to Finish:
While Ryerson recorded a record-setting 27 points, the Rams admittedly left some points on the table. They were unable to close out Carleton on Sept. 29, allowing the Ravens to score in injury time to earn the draw. On Oct. 14, they had a 2-0 advantage over Toronto at the half, but let the Blues come back in the second half for a 2-2 final. The Rams will only play against quality teams from here on out and it will be important to close out games when they hold a lead.
Laurentian: Matt George
George started both games against the Rams, allowing two goals in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 16 and recording a clean sheet on Oct. 19. The 6'4, 200lb keeper went 4-6-2 on the season and posted four shutouts. His 81% save percentage was the highest in his three-year OUA career.
Ryerson: Christian Maraldo
Maraldo has solidified himself as the Rams undisputed goalkeeper as well as a steady presence in the back third. The third-year keeper started all 14 games for Ryerson this season and is unbeaten in his last 13 (7-0-6). His one loss came on opening night to Carleton, but since then he has amassed seven shutouts and an 86% save percentage on the season. Maraldo conceded nine goals all season, making the Rams one of the hardest teams to score against in the OUA.
Players to Watch:
Laurentian: Davor Alisic
Alisic scored six goals this season, which was good for first on the Voyageurs and tied him for ninth in the OUA. Laurentian's top offensive threat is playing in his final year of eligibility. Alisic scored Laurentian's lone playoff goal last season and the Rams should not expect him to go quietly into retirement.
Behind Alisic, the Voyageurs have three OUA second team all-stars in midfielder Daniel O'Connor and defenders Cameron Brooks and Brian Kavaratzis.
Ryerson: Milos Scepanovic
Scepanovic had an enormous rookie season for Ryerson, leading the team with six goals and tying for ninth in the OUA. The Belgrade, Serbia native is a constant threat when on the pitch and is creative with the ball. Scepanovic's emergence in the Rams offence also serves to take pressure off of all-Canadian Alex Braletic, first-team all-star Viktor Anastasov and Armin Tankovic.
"Both sides didn't really put in their "A" squads. There wasn't that much fight to the game. It was more of a tactical battle, neither side wanted to show too much for the playoffs."
"If we play our game, I don't think anyone can stop us."- Alex Braletic on Saturday's 0-0 draw vs. Laurentian and a look ahead to Wednesday.