By Anthony Lopopolo
Two years after winning a league championship, Ryerson’s women’s hockey team is having a hard time putting a team on the ice.
The Stingers were a perfect 21-0 in Tier 4 of the Golden Blades Hockey League in 2007. But after leap-frogging two tiers last year, the team lost 14 games.
Now the program is struggling to find enough players to be a legitimate contender in Tier 2 competition as they wait to claim varsity status in 2010.
“It’s tough to recruit when you’re not in the middle of playing. People aren’t as interested if the team isn’t active,” said head coach Stephanie White.
White began to see conflicts in roster size arise when a few players with whom she had a verbal agreement backed out.
“In all honesty, we had a couple of players who were supposed to join the team,” she said. “Those players would have helped improve the squad, but like anything else we have to carry on.”
Only five players are returning this year, leaving the door open for rookies.
Megan Higgins, a first-year sociology student who played at the senior-A level in Barrie, is one rookie who thinks the team will be able to compete in the OUA in the future.
“If we hustle hard and organize ourselves, we can use this season as a stepping stone,” she said.
Early signs indicate that the Stingers will have exhausting trials to go through, as they failed to win their opening two games of the season last weekend.
They dressed 10 players and a goalie, which met the minimum requirement. Higgins, however, relishes the number of times she gets the nod from her coach.
“We kept our shifts short, going on and off pretty quick, every 30 seconds,” she said. “We got a load of ice time, which was great. Playing on defence, I enjoyed it.”
But White believes that not competing at the OUA level dampens the program’s allure.
“I realize that players will turn away from us and could go to another potential school, ones that own rinks or have better access to them.”