Self-proclaimed “Superfan” says Rams need fans
By Adam Button
When the fan bus pulled into the Lakeshore Lions Arena, five minutes into the game, the Ryerson fans had already missed the hockey team’s opening goal.
Third-year business student Melissa Fiore was just happy to have seen the game at all.
“This is the earliest we’ve ever gotten here,” said the fan club member.
But the arrival of the fan bus didn’t cause much of a stir.
It was the smallest turnout of the year for the fan club who watched as the Royal Military College Paladins beat the Rams 5-4 on Friday.
Only 14 people were on the bus, including the driver, J. Callaja. She had trouble finding the rink, but that was only a small part of the trip’s terrible organization.
“I’ve seen elementary school kids better organized than this,” Callaja said before her bus left — 20 minutes late.
Signs advertised for fans to signup at the RAC, but there was no list to sign. A RAC worker said fans were just supposed to show up outside Oakham House. Most had a drink inside first.
“There wasn’t a lot of time to organize [this time] so not a lot of people knew about it,” Fiore said. Earlier this season, fans packed the bus.
“When we had a bigger crowd we made signs and cheered, but now we’ll just watch,” she said.
Self-proclaimed ‘superfan,’ fifth-year computer science student Ali Taleb said he would still cheer.
“I’m the only one who cheers,” he said. “I gave out horns and no one used them. It sucks, we should make more noise.”
The fans had lots to yell about in the first period. The Rams were dominating and jumped ahead 2-0 on a wrist shot from Justin Norwood.
If not for the Paladins’ goaltending the Rams would have been way ahead.
The Rams came out flat in the second though. They allowed two goals in less than four minutes before regaining the momentum they had in the first. They finished the period ahead 4-3.
In the third period the Rams fell apart. The defense left goaltender John Sikkema by himself against a three-man breakaway and gave up numerous two-on-ones.
Sikkema was stellar until, with five minutes remaining, a long shift finally hurt the Rams.
Centre Tyler Moss had just narrowly missed his second goal of the game but couldn’t outskate back-checkers. The Paladins tied it 4-4 on a nifty passing play. Three minutes later the Rams were woefully unorganized and the Paladins scored the winner.
After the disappointing loss, assistant coach Jim Peffers said his team was unfocused for much of the game.
“We only had success when we were dumping the puck in and getting shots, we stopped shooting and doing what made us successful and started turning the puck over.”
Taleb thought the Rams needed more support from fans.
“Half of winning is because of the crowd,” he said. “I’m the superfan. I lost my voice but I don’t want to cheer on my own. I need all the fans to cheer like me.”
On Saturday, the Rams came out firing. They beat the Queen’s University Golden Gaels 4-3 to reclaim first place in the OUA Mideast division. At 7-9-0, they have 14 points, one ahead of second place RMC.
The offense broke out for 45 shots. After being outshot for most of the year, the Rams are showing they are capable of an intimidating offense. Twins Mark and Greg McMillan combined for four points.
Peffers said the Rams have learned to play with or without fans but acknowledged the importance of the fans.
“A good crowd is always positive,” he said. “Sometimes, if we’re not careful, the visiting team has more fans than us.”
He said a noisy crowd can give a team “a shot of adrenaline,” but he said the Rams didn’t need any more adrenaline.
“A shot of common sense would have helped.”
This week the Rams play number three in the division, the University of Toronto. The game is at Lakeshore Lions and begins at 3 p.m.