Rams wrap up season on the road
TORONTO - This week will be the final one in what has been a disappointing season for the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team. Fuelled by a large recruiting class that included offensive dynamos such as Kryshanda Green (Brampton, Ont.), Ailish Forfar (Sharon, Ont.) and Lauren Nicholson (Dresden, Ont.), the Rams were right in the thick of the playoff race after the first semester. A record of 4-1-4-3 for 17 points had them in a four way tie for eighth place in the province.
Once the team returned from their holiday break though, the offensive production that they had enjoyed in 2016 didn’t follow them into the new year. A seven game losing streak to begin the second half in which they only scored a total of two goals extinguished their playoff hopes and officially eliminated them from postseason contention last weekend.
Tied for eleventh place in the OUA, the Rams (4-2-12-4) will complete the regular season with a short trip to Varsity Arena to take on the No. 10 University of Toronto Varsity Blues (13-2-7-0) Thursday night before travelling to Waterloo to finish things off with a tilt against the hometown Warriors (11-2-7-2).
“Our entire half, it seems like, is against teams that are in the playoffs and obviously our opponents are (going to be) gearing up and trying to fine tune their game,” said Ryerson’s head coach Lisa Haley following her team’s 4-0 loss to the Nipissing Lakers on Saturday. “And so, it’s an opportunity for us to play a couple of playoff teams and see how we match up.”
The last time the Rams and Varsity Blues met, over 2000 students from the Toronto District School Board cheered Ryerson on to a 2-0 victory at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Green scored the game’s opening marker just 42 seconds in while Forfar added the insurance marker midway through the third period. It was a sparkling 33 save performance by Sydney Authier (Wallaceburg, Ont.) between the pipes that was the difference though. The sophomore netminder stood on her head in front of the enthusiastic crowd to secure the victory for her squad.
That previous result will have to be motivation for the Rams on Thursday as they’ll be taking on one of the hottest teams in the province. The University of Toronto has posted a staggering record of 8-1-2-0 so far in 2017 and vaulted into third place in the standings in the process. Neither a team that’s known for filling the net or keeping the puck out of their own, the Varsity Blues have had an uncanny ability to win one goal games.
They’re an impressive 8-2-2-0 in tight contests this season. That includes a stretch of five straight one goal victories in regulation to begin the second half of the season.
A big reason for their success is strong special teams play. Toronto currently owns the best power play (19.4%) and penalty kill (95%) in the OUA. To put that dominance in perspective, they’ve netted five shorthanded goals while only surrendering five power play tallies.
Up front, the Varsity Blues have been led by Taylor Day, one of the most consistent point producers in the league over her career. The fifth year forward currently sits in a tie for third in the province with 25 points (15 goals, 10 assists). She scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Laurentian last Saturday.
Following that contest on Thursday, Ryerson will be looking for a bit of redemption when they clash with the Waterloo Warriors at the Columbia Ice Field on Saturday. The Warriors came to Mattamy Home Ice a little over a month ago and rode a 20 save performance by their goaltender Taylor Reimer to a 1-0 victory. A goal by Amy Barnard on the man advantage in the middle frame proved to be the difference.
The fourth place Warriors will definitely come into the game with a ton of confidence though. They knocked off the OUA-leading No. 2 Guelph Gryphons 3-0 on Sunday.
“The plan won’t be much different than last week,” said Haley about the rest of the schedule. “It’s sticking to the process and, for us, making sure that we take that next step and see how we match up against a couple of teams, one that’s ranked in the top ten in the country and another one that’s not far behind. Yeah, we have to finish on the road but it’s an opportunity to see where we are.”
Puck drop on Thursday is scheduled for 7:00 p.m in Toronto while Saturday’s matchup will be a 2:30 p.m start. If you can’t make it to either game, both will be broadcasted live at OUA.tv.
NOTES: Saturday’s tilt will be the last in a Ryerson jersey for graduating seniors Stephanie Chiste (Schomberg, Ont.), Danelle Im (Toronto), Michelle Evagelou (Scarborough, Ont.), Justine Glover (Wasaga Beach, Ont.) and Blair Malthaner (Toronto). All five were honoured before the Rams’ final regular season home game last Saturday… Although it’s been a rough campaign, Green has the opportunity to make Ryerson history this weekend. The sophomore forward currently has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) this season. With two points in her final two games, she could tie the Ryerson individual season record of 20 points. That impressive total was put up by Kyla Thurston back in 2011-12.