Rams women’s hockey: Offensive explosion

After getting shut out in Wednesday’s game against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, Ryerson Rams’ offence exploded tonight with a season-high seven goals, besting the Windsor Lancers 7-1. Considering how close the first period was, the blowout final score came as quite the surprise. Here are three takeaways from the game for the Rams:

1. First for many

Tonight’s game was a great night for Ryerson’s rookies. Of the seven goals scored, three of them were from first-year players. Mia Morano, Abby Decorby, and Emily Baxter all found the back of the net for the Rams and they were very pretty goals as well.

Morano’s came from driving to the net and dangling the puck past a sprawled Jaydlin Spooner. She showed strength on the puck and confidence as she cut towards the net and outwaited the goaltender.

Baxter’s goal showed off her speed and her patience as she split the Lancers’ defencemen and outwaited the goaltender to tuck it past.

What was so impressive with these goals was the maturity shown with the plays. They remained poised when they had possession of the puck and let their hockey instincts take over rather than quickly toss it at the net. If these players can get going, Ryerson’s offensive depth will be quite the challenge to defend against.

2. Fanny Vigneat continues to shine

While the Rams did give goaltender Fanny Vigneat a big scoring cushion to work with, she still had a lot on her plate, stopping 29 of 30 shots thrown her way. The one goal she allowed came on the penalty kill and after that, she shut the door for the offence to take over.

The goaltender is the most important penalty killer and with the Rams taking six of them, Vigneat had to be sharp to make sure the game didn’t run away from them. She continues to build off a very strong season and is a key piece for Ryerson’s hockey team. As long as she plays well, the team has a chance to win every single time.

3. Much improved penalty kill

In the Rams’ first two games, their penalty kill was not good, killing just 77.8% of them. Ever since, they have been much better at getting in passing lanes and blocking shots to make Vigneat’s life much easier.

Near the end of the game, Erika Crouse made a fearless block on a slapshot during the PK. She continues to show what an amazing player she is both offensively and defensively. Seeing star players sacrificing their bodies for the team sends a very strong message to the bench as they know that no one is above hockey basics.

A few minutes later, the Lancers were once again on the powerplay and they pulled the goalie to try and get a goal. Ryerson’s Mariah Hinds then made a huge shot block and slapped the puck into the empty net, the second short-handed goal the Rams recorded in the game.

Getting in the passing lanes disrupts plays and with the speed the Rams have, they are always a threat to create short-handed chances and they showed it off in today’s game.

What they need to improve:

While the Rams did kill five of six penalties, they never should have taken so many in the first place. In the first period, Ryerson was sloppy and gave up 3 penalties and a powerplay goal. Head coach Lisa Hayley must have knocked some sense into them as they played a very disciplined second period and exploded offensively with three goals.

Then in the third period, the Rams ran away with the game and the discipline disappeared. The team took another three penalties, including one 200-feet away from Vigneat.

The Rams played a weaker OUA team and were able to get away with some sloppiness but if they want to compete against the top schools in the province, they need to make sure they stay out of the box. Not many schools will let Ryerson get away with so many infractions and not make them pay on the scoresheet.

The Windsor Lancers aren’t the most formidable opponents, but it was a good bounceback game for the Rams as they were able to regain some confidence. Many players scored their first goals of the season and it will definitely add some positivity in the locker room as they set up to visit the reigning OUA Champions, the Guelph Gryphons on October 30th.

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