By Scott Nowoselski
The men’s hockey season got off to a rough start Thursday night when the team failed to score a goal in their home opener — falling 3-0 to the Brock Badgers. The Rams’ offense was unable to combat 23 minutes in penalties, creating two short-handed goals for Brock.
Second year goalie Paul Gibson was the lone bright spot for Ryerson, keeping his team in the game with 20 saves, especially when the Rams were forced to play short-handed.
After finishing last in the Mid East Division last year and allowing the second-most goals in Ontario University Athletics (OUA), coach Graham Wise vowed to make his squad a defensive threat this year.
Wise said the group will be exciting to watch if they consistently play hard every game.
“We’d like to be an aggressive team,” he said.
“I want a competitive team that’s going to play for a full 60 minutes. If we do that, we’ll be in every game. ”
In their game on Thursday, the Rams were physical with their opponents, punishing the Badgers with an aggressive forecheck that forced the 2007 OUA finalists in their own end for most of the first five minutes.
But any rhythm the Rams established evaporated at the seven-minute mark, when Ryerson defenseman Michael Paolo was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head of Brock forward Brennen Giroux. While the Rams were able to kill off the power play, it marked the beginning of a string of Ryerson players to the penalty box. The team was consistently down a player throughout the game and this seriously inhibited their ability to establish steady offensive pressure.
The Badgers caught the Rams flat-footed after the first intermission, as Brock’s Isaac Smeltzer scored the eventual game winner off a deflection just over a minute into the second period.
Short-handed tallies from Brock’s Ryan Allen and Nathan Hooper further deflated the Ryerson attack, and ultimately put the game out of reach for the men’s hockey team.
The loss may be a discouraging start for the Rams, but don’t expect the team’s entire season to go sour.
Wise said he would be “very disappointed” if the team doesn’t make the playoffs this year.
“If we can get everyone on the same page where we’re all prepared, then that’ll be a good thing,” he said.
However, getting all the players on the same page will not be easy.
The revamped blue-line features seven new faces, with only Logan Noble and Grant Buckley returning from last year.
The new defensive corps will be highlighted by three transfer students — Troy Murray from Wilfrid Laurier University, Julian Zamparo from Western Michigan University, and Rob Toomey from Elmira College in New York State.
However, the team will have to adapt to these changes quickly because there is competition for playing time on the crowded blue-line.
“Our depth on defense helps our team a lot,” Wise said.
“Once we get Murray and Zamparo eligible, then it makes it very competitive on defense. We’ll go with the guys who are playing at that level on any given night.”
Despite their power outage in the season opener, the Rams’ offense remains relatively unchanged from the team that led the Mid East division with 95 goals last year.
Eight of the top 10 scorers are returning, including three time MVP and team captain Kevin Krasnowski, who will return to play in his fourth season for the squad.
The Rams will now hit the road for the next three games, starting with York University on Oct. 16.