The Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team began their preseason this past weekend with a pair of home games at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Ryerson hosted the University of Montreal Carabins, as well as their municipal rivals, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues over the two days, with the Montreal game opening the weekend on Friday night.
Friday’s game was a long yet thrilling affair, with Ryerson eventually falling 3-2 in overtime against the Carabins. An opening goal from 2018 OUA rookie of the year Erika Crouse, began the scoring – but it was not long until the Carabins found their footing on Mattamy Home Ice.
Ryerson netminder Rachel Seely was magnificent throughout the night for Ryerson, but was unable to deter the eventual winning goal in overtime.
“You always try to keep your head in it during overtime, but obviously there’s a little bit more pressure,” said Seeley. “It’s do or die, so you do what you can.” said Seely after the game in regards to the overtime loss.
Although the Rams dropped their exhibition opener, the valiant effort against one of the top teams in the country was a rejuvenating performances for the young Ryerson team.
Saturday vs University of Toronto Varsity Blues:
Saturday’s matinee game was the first rivalry meeting of the season, and the first taste of OUA competition for the Rams ladies in 2019-20. Games against the Varsity Blues are always circled on the calendar for Ryerson students, and athletes alike, and though this was a preseason game- the intensity remained.
The game began slowly, but the pace picked up very soon, with both teams going all out by the end of the first period. Stingy defense from both sides was the story for the majority of the game, but Ryerson were the first ones who were able to get the puck in the net.
Emily Baxter scored the first goal of the afternoon with less than three minutes remaining in the first frame. Originally thought to be a frozen puck, Baxter pushed and nudged the puck in past the Toronto goaltender to give the Rams a 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
The lead would last until the middle of the second period, where the U of T found the tying goal on a powerplay. A tripping call against Ryerson left the Rams short handed, and few seconds into the advantage U of T had tied it up. A wonderfully executed cycle in the offensive zone ended with a deflection from Adriana Novo to tie the game. Defenders Madelyn Walsh and Natasha Aathanasakos provided the passes at the point and were credited with the assist, leading the game to a deadlock in midway through the second period.
It was not long until the V Blues would turn the tables and put themselves into the lead. A failed Rams power play and a giveaway in the offensive zone turned the puck over to Toronto penalty killer Taylor Trussler, who sprung Jessica Robuchaud onto a breakaway as soon as she exited the penalty box. Robichaud neatly slotted it past Ryerson betminder Seeley, who was facing her first shot of the game.
The Blues insurance goal came six minutes into the third period, coming off as the product of a well worked a chain of passes behind the net- eventually finding Avery Henry at the creases doorstep, where she fired into the gaping net.
The Rams kept it exciting, scoring with a goal from Erika Crouse with less than five minutes remaining in the game, but that is as close as Ryerson would get; finishing the weekend with two very close losses.
Throughout the game both teams showed a fight and passion usually reserved for when points are on the line. The over 10 minutes of penalties for both teams tells the whole story, and suggests that the Hogtown rivalry will be a fun one to watch as the OUA regular season begins.
The Rams have now completed their preseason and open their competitive campaign next Saturday against the York Lions. For U of T, they will play the Western University Mustangs in the first game of the “Old Four Torunament.”
Although many want to see the “Subway Series” between the Blues and Rams as soon as possible, hockey fans will have to wait until October 11th tp get their first taste of the rivalry in its purest form.