TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team has achieved their goal for the first half of the 2016-17 campaign. One season after finishing last in the OUA, they wanted to sit in the playoff picture following the opening portion of the schedule. A 3-2 win in regulation over the Laurier Golden Hawks Thursday night on Mattamy Home Ice boosted their record to 4-1-4-3 and moved them into a four way tie with the UOIT Ridgebacks (4-1-4-3), University of Toronto Varsity Blues (5-1-5-0) and Queen’s Gaels (5-1-6-0) for eighth place in the standings. Each squad goes into the holiday break with 17 points.

BOXSCORE

“It feels great,” said Ryerson’s Sarah McGilvray (Stouffville, Ont.) following the game. “At our first team retreat, that was the very first thing that we said, ‘let’s get a playoff position’. It was a little bit rocky recently, but we pulled together and we got the win so it’s exciting.”

McGilvray’s beautiful backhander broke a 2-2 tie with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period. The junior forward intercepted a breakout pass by a Laurier defender, skated into the slot and fired a perfect backhand shot past the blocker of the Golden Hawks’ netminder Amanda Smith and into the top left corner.

“I have to give it to my wingers,” said McGilvray about the eventual game winner. “They definitely did a beautiful forecheck on that so it kind of opened up the pathway. I just saw it and then I picked it and just went for it.”

“McGilvary has always had sick hands,” added Ryerson’s head coach Lisa Haley. “She can make plays and when she gets the chance to finish in tight, she’s pretty money.”

McGilvray’s second of the season completed quite the comeback by the Rams. Following a scoreless first period, Laurier jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead within the opening six minutes of the middle frame. Emily Woodhouse began things for the Golden Hawks when she shoveled a loose puck in the crease past Ryerson’s starting goaltender Rachel Seeley (Ottawa, Ont.) 2:07 into the period.

Laurier’s Morgan Bates doubled that advantage three-and-a-half minutes later. Following a strong play to the net by linemate Kaitlyn Hatzes, Bates picked up the rebound in the slot and fired it between the pipes. Her first OUA goal gave the Golden Hawks all of the momentum and prompted a goaltending change by Haley. After surrendering two tallies on 11 shots, Seeley was replaced by Sydney Authier (Wallaceburg, Ont.).

“It’s too bad for our goalies,” said Haley about her decision, the third time in as many games she’s made a switch between the pipes. “They’re making the first save, they’re making the second save and I felt like I was in a position where I had to make a change not because of the goalie’s performance, but really because of the team in front of her.”

Laurier nearly stretched their lead to three shortly after the change. Some more pressure deep in the Rams zone resulted in the puck squeaking out to Jacky Normandeau in the high slot. The Golden Hawks’ fourth-year defenceman ripped her wrist shot past Authier, but couldn’t beat the post. That was the break Ryerson needed.

Shortly thereafter, the Rams’ Kryshanda Green (Brampton, Ont.) flew down the left wing and beat Smith with a wrister on the glove side. Green’s team-leading eighth goal and 15th point (assisted by McGilvray and Bethany Clipper) cut Laurier’s advantage in half and gave Ryerson some confidence going into the second intermission.

“I wouldn’t say that we were negative at all,” said McGilvray about the feel in the room after forty minutes. “We’ve been down before, especially the last couple of games. That first goal for us kind of brought us up. So, I think we were rolling and Lisa was pretty positive when she came too.”

Midway through the third, the Rams were rewarded. A nice pass by captain Stephanie Chiste (Schomberg, Ont.) from the point was redirected perfectly by first-year Elexa Pakozdy near the left faceoff dot (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) and beat Smith five-hole. Pakozdy’s first in a Ryerson jersey evened things up at two and set the stage for McGilvray’s highlight reel winner.

Authier finished with 14 saves in nearly 35 minutes of work for the victory in net while Smith stopped 39 of the 42 shots that she faced.

“I think they reacted the way they needed them to,” said Haley about her team after the goaltending change. “It was a bit of a walk up call. I still think we had a couple of scary moments right after that, but once we were able to debrief a bit after the second period and straighten out some roles and responsibilities, I thought the third was better…”

The loss, meanwhile, drops Laurier to 0-1-10-1. They remain in the basement of the OUA standings.

The Rams won’t be back in action until 2017. They’ll travel to London, Ont. on January 7th to clash with the Western Mustangs. In their previous meeting in early November, the Mustangs came away with a 6-3 triumph in a game that featured a combined six power play goals. Puck drop at Thompson Arena is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

NOTES
Although Ryerson pulled it off, the game was the eighth in a row that they surrendered the opening goal… The contest was also the first that the Rams have won this season after being down through 40 minutes of play. They’re now 1-0-4-1 when trailing after two periods… On top of that, the victory was Ryerson’s first in the final game of the fall semester in program history. They were a combined 0-0-0-5 in those contests before Thursday night.