By Scott Carefoot
Every sport has its own unique way for a team to blow a big lead.
In football, it’s when the secondary gets burned for several long bombs in the fourth quarter. In baseball, it’s when the closer serves up a grand slam. In hockey, well … it’s more complicated in hockey.
Usually, no one factor is responsible for a team blowing a big lead in hockey. Fatigue, carelessness, sloth and weak goaltending can all be contributing factors though.
Last Saturday, at St. Michael’s arena, the Ryerson Rams were hit by all four as they coughed up a three-goal lead in the third period to lose 6-5 to the previously winless Laurentian Voyageurs.
The Rams’ bizarre display was like the final voyage of the Titanic; slow out of the dock, gradually picking up speed, then meeting up with sudden disaster followed by the inevitable sinking.
The first period ended with the score tied 1-1 after Ryerosn forward Jason Kotack flipped teammate Marcin Snita’s rebound over a prone Laurentian goalie with eight seconds remaining.
The Rams busted loose in the second period, scoring again 10 seconds in and not letting up until the period ended. They took at 5-2 lead into the third.
The Voyageurs that came out for the third period was a different team than the one that had just tanked it in the second.
They skated harder, made more bodychecks, and just took control of the game right away, scoring 35 seconds in on a two-man power play.
The Rams started sinking at this point, and it seemed nobody was able to bail them out.
The Voyageurs rattled Rams goalie Carm Giurleo made some brilliant stops early in the third to keep Ryerson in the game, but Laurentian was relentless. The Voyageurs ignited after a teammate was cut during a goal mouth scramble, dripping blood onto the ice as he skated to the bench.
Five seconds later, Laurentian made it 5-4, and the momentum was clearly on their side.
Rams coach Louie Carnevale tried to stop the bleeding by calling a time-out with eight minutes remaining, but it was to no avail.
When Laurentian finally took the lead on a deflection, the end result seemed inevitable.
Carnevale insisted the Rams collapse had nothing to do with fatigue from playing with only four defensemen.
“Far from it. We’re in great shape,” he said. “We had enough gas to go another period.”
Carnevale blamed a lack of concentration for the Rams’ recent third period problems.
“There’s so much pressure on this team to win, and they know what they’re supposed to do. It’s just a lack of focus.”
The Rams will try to recover that focus next weekend when they host U of T on Friday and Guelph on Saturday at St. Mike’s.