Hockey team equals last season’s win total in first seven games.
By Kevin Gonsalves
The hockey team isn’t cutting down on shots against, but don’t tell goalie Jon Sikkema.
The Rams won at McGill University 5-2, despite being outshot 55-21. The next night, the Rams played a hard-fought game before losing 4-3 to the University of Ottawa.
Against McGill, Sikkema stopped 53 shots for his fourth win. Ryerson, now 4-3-0, had four wins in 24 games last season.
“They came out pretty hard against us,” Sikkema said. “But we were patient and the team did a good job in front of me.”
Defenceman David Anthony, had a goal in both games. He said the Rams were fortunate to have Sikkema on his game.
“After the long bus ride, we just didn’t have any jump,” said Anthony. “Luckily, Jon kept us in it ‘til we got going.”
Rams’ coach Ed Kirsten said he was pleased with the way the weekend unfolded.
“If I had sat down before the weekend, and looked at our schedule, most definitely I would have been happy with a split,” he said. “Still, after winning the first one, you always want to win the next game, but we just missed.”
The win provided another look at an offense playing better than it has in previous seasons.
Once again, the line featuring the McMillan brothers, Greg and Mark, was dominant. Greg McMillan had a goal and two assists, and Mark McMillan was the Rams’ best playmaker with four assists. They have combined for 29 points in the first seven games.
“That line is very hot right now,” said Kristen. “This is definitely a breakout year for them.”
Not only were the Rams’ forwards playing well, but the defense contributed two goals, one by Anthony and the other by Justin Cook.
“We’re not taking gambles to score goals. We’re just moving past our check on the line and the forwards are finding us in the slow,” Anthony said.
Kristen was happy with the team’s offensive push, but thinks the Rams did a better job of clearing rebounds.
“We protected the slot, and tried to take away the second chances,” he said.
Sikkema agreed that there was a noticeable difference. “I was able to help because on a lot of shots I could control the rebound into the corner. When I didn’t control it, the defense knocked it away.”
Against Ottawa, the Gee Gees scored on some well-placed shots in the third period to beat Sikkema and take the game.
Kristen puled Sikkema in the last minute for an extra attacker, but Ottawa scored into the empty net. Anthony scored with just under 20 seconds left, but Ryerson ran out of time.
Sikkema was playing in his second game in two nights, and he said playing two in a row is helping him get into shape after a year off.
“For the last little while, I’ve been in a zone,” he said. “But this is different from other times I’ve been on a roll, because there’s less pressure on me and I’m just having fun playing hockey.”
While the loss came as a disappointment, the team was thrilled when Kristen put up the new Canadian university rankings in the change room. The Rams received three votes to be ranked in the top ten.
“We’re starting to earn some more respect,” said Anthony. “For the veterans who have been here for three or four years of losing, we’re really appreciating the run we’re on.”
The team is first place in the OUA mideast division with eight points. The Rams are two points up with a game in hand on the slumping University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
The Rams play two games this weekend at the University of Windsor (3-5-0).