The Ryerson Rams’ Cinderella story is officially over.
The No. 3 nationally-ranked UQTR swept Ryerson two games to none in second-round playoff action this past weekend, winning both games 6-3 to oust Ryerson’s best squad in 20 years.
Shaky opening periods proved fatal for Ryerson, as UQTR tallied three times in the first period in both games.
Though the Rams continued the strong physical game from their first-round series with Toronto, bad penalties and slow decision-making with the puck that led to turnovers kept them spinning in their own zone, stunting their chances at a comeback.
“We took too many stupid penalties,” said Rams defenseman Julian Zamparo after game one. “We’d pepper them with shots, especially on the power play, but then take a dumb penalty to kill our momentum.”
In game one, played at George Bell Arena instead of in Montreal due to travel reasons, Ryerson faltered out of the gate as UQTR’s Alexandre Blais intercepted a sloppy pass in Ryerson’s zone and wristed it past goaltender Paul Gibson just 53 seconds into the game.
Michael Paolo would respond on the power play for Ryerson when his one-timer from the right point banked in off the goal post and in. Though UQTR argued the puck had never crossed the goal line, the decision on the ice stood. The Rams looked hesitant throughout the first half of the period, telegraphing their shots and second-guessing their passes. Though they killed off all five of their minor penalties, they spent much of the period icing the puck and playing defense. Just as the Rams started to hit their stride, Francis Charland scored twice just two minutes apart late in the frame to make it 3-1 for UQTR. In the second period, the teams would trade goals, with Felix Petit scoring two minutes in and Ryerson’s Cory Konecny popping a loose puck over goaltender Jean-Christophe Blanchard’s shoulder on the power play.
The Rams broke up several good behind-the-net centering passes and had many quality chances in the third but could not find the back of the net. UQTR scored twice more to make it 6-2 before Konecny wired a far-side wrister past Blanchard with just a minute left in the game.
Though they were decisively beaten, the Rams remained optimistic about their chances at taking the series. “We just have to come out hard and give them 60 minutes of hockey. I think we’re capable of that,” said head coach Graham Wise, who was named OUA East Coach of the Year on Wednesday. In game two, Matt Schmermund scored twice in the second period – once on the power play and again shorthanded – to make it 3-2 going into the final frame after UQTR racked up a three goal lead in the first period to chase Paul Gibson out of the crease in favour of backup Louie George. Ryerson was unable to build upon that momentum in the third period as UQTR would score another three goals before the halfway point to put the game out of reach. Stewart D’Eall would tally at 13:59 but that was it for the Rams.
“They played their game and we didn’t play ours,” said Zamparo. “It’s as simple as that.”