By Daniel Morand
After two miserable seasons, the new bench boss of Ryerson’s women’s hockey team is hoping to change the club’s losing culture.
The Rams have won only three of their first 52 games and have finished last both times.
In his first four games with the Rams, Pierre Alain, who took over as the team’s in- terim head coach after head coach Lisa Haley was named an assistant coach for Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey, has led his team to half as many wins as the team managed all of last season.
Although their 1-3 start has left much to be desired, Alain believes his team has what it takes to compete for a playoff spot.
“We can tell that this team is different this year,” he said. “We’ve already won our first game of the season and I can tell they are aim- ing for another notch, another step.”
Despite being new to Ryerson, Alain is familiar with the Rams’ style of play as both he and Haley have coached Canada’s senior women’s hockey team together and share similar coaching philosophies.
“The patience that we have in building teams is very similar,” said Alain. “We know that this is a learning process and we are both very patient in our teaching.”
In two games this season, Armstrong has posted a .902 save percentage and goals against average of 3.03.
Last season, a goaltending tandem of Emma Crawley, Brianna Tremblay and Dana Carson posted a combined goals against av- erage of 4.11— the second-worst in Ontario University Athletics (OUA).
The recruiting class also included three forwards who were brought in to help improve an offence that scored an OUA-worst 35 goals last season.
“Alain gives the rookies really good opportunities to get on the ice and do something,” said first-year forward Claire Sabine. “He’s an awesome coach just the way he runs his systems and the way he runs his teams [is] really encouraging.”
Despite a plethora of new faces, third-year forward Melissa Wronzberg doesn’t think the team is in the midst of a rebuilding process.
“I think because of the rookies we’ve brought in this year along with the group that started and last year’s rookies, it’s no longer a growing year,” said Wronzberg, one of the team’s assistant captains.
Although the Rams went 6-3 in the preseason, the team has posted a pedestrian 1-3 record and have scored an OUA-worst four goals.
But in a year with so much uncertainty, Alain believes that he is up to the task of leading the Rams to a successful season.
“They have confidence in me, that’s why they hired me,” said Alain. “[They brought me in] to be a good teacher, a good leader and bring the team to another level.”
In a season that will feature a lot of firsts for the Rams, the team has added seven new players to their roster including goaltender Alex Armstrong, who was brought into shore up last year’s spotty goaltending.