By Jordan Hay
Despite dressing a full roster for the first time all year, the men’s hockey team is still a work in progress.
Rams head coach Graham Wise added seven new players over the holiday break in an effort to patch up holes in the team’s line-up.
The revamped team dropped a 5-2 decision to Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East division rivals Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins on Friday night, but picked up their first point in 13 games the next night after tying Queen’s University.
Yet regardless of the team’s thirteenth straight loss, Wise was quick to praise his players’ efforts.
“Nothing went wrong out there. It was a good team we played against and they capitalized on their chances. But I thought we worked hard. I thought everybody gave a concerted effort. I’m very happy with the guys and their work ethic,” he said.
Ryerson dug itself into a deep hole early on, a mistake that proved to be the game’s deciding factor. Rams forward Marcus Booth drew a penalty less than a minute into the game, which led to an RMC goal by Paul Bradley.
Three minutes later, Bradley buried his second marker of the period. Down 3-0, Ryerson quickly responded when forward Kevin Day scored less than a minute later. The Rams trailed 3-1 at the end of the first period.
The second period saw tighter play and a rise in emotions from both teams. There was steady traffic to the box as each team collected about half a dozen penalties.
The lone goal of the period came at the hands of Ryerson newcomer Josh McNair, who capitalized on a massive rebound just past the 12 minute mark and brought the Rams within one.
Down 3-2 at the start of the third, the Rams seemed to be mounting a comeback. But a quick goal by RMC forward Luke Pierce dashed their remaining hopes.
Mid-way through the period, Rams goaltender Mark Furman prevented the blowout by gloving an RMC penalty shot; he ended the evening with 27 saves.
In the dying minutes of the game, Ryerson pulled Furman but failed to capitalize with the extra attacker. Instead, RMC forward Tyler McTavish found the empty net for the Paladins’ fifth goal.
“There were too many penalties. But with the new guys, we were just trying to gel and get used to each other,” said forward Kevin Day who felt the loss was overshadowed by his new teammates’ performances.
Day was impressed by their effort and anticipates a change in the club’s direction. “We were short on bodies, but we’ve got a lot of guys coming in this second half. We should do better. We’ve got some really good guys,” the second year criminal justice student said.
“For the first period it looked like we had a few cobwebs on some of the new guys, including myself,” said defenceman Mike Pain. A first-year arts student, Pain is one of Wise’s newest recruits.
The next night the Rams proved that they were able to gel together. They faced off against the Queen’s Golden Gaels and skated off with a 3-3 draw.
Mike Kavanagh scored two of the goals and Day netted the equalizer. Despite the improvement, coach Wise remains cautiously optimistic.
“When you have a lot of new guys, it’s going to take time for them to gel and get together,” he said. “But I’m always positive. We’ll keep battling.”