By Andrew Roberts
The Ryerson men’s hockey team (9-6-1) opened 2015 with a sluggish start, losing 8-1 against the last place Guelph Gryphons (4-10-3) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre during Hockey Day in Toronto Saturday afternoon.
The Rams were down 3-0 after one when Guelph scored two quick one-timer goals down low in the slot, followed by a deflected slapper from the blue line. Rams goalie Troy Passingham was out of position on the first goal, knocked down after the play on the second, and was screened on the third.
But despite the early score, the shots were only 17-15 in favour of the Gryphons after 20, and the Rams wasted no time to get on the board to begin the second. Rams forward Domenic Alberga buried the rebound from a Mitch Gallant slapper 58 seconds in, shrinking the goal differential to two. Alberga is second in Rams scoring with 18 points in 16 games played.
But the Gryphons responded, notching their fourth goal of the game at 2:40, and tallied a shorthanded marker unassisted in the period’s final moments.
“We had three really close games with them last year, so they had a [determined] mindset” said Rams head coach Graham Wise. The Rams defeated Guelph 4-3 in their last meeting on Nov. 27, but not before heading into double overtime.
The Rams were one for seven on the powerplay despite decent puck movement and defenseman Alex Basso even managed to ring one off the iron. Additionally, they failed to convert on a well executed three-on-one midway through period two.
“I just feel Guelph was hungrier for the victory,” Wise said. “We [need to] execute better on the powerplay, and get back to the drawing board on Monday.”
Things only got worse for the Rams in period three, when Guelph defenseman Mackenzie Nichol roofed his third of the game over Passingham’s left shoulder. Guelph added another shorthanded tally and a late tip in with two minutes remaining to close out the scoring. Passingham played all 60 minutes, and faced 36 shots in the defeat.
“In hindsight maybe we could have pulled Passingham, but it is what it is,” Wise said.
But it wasn’t all bad for the Rams, as defenseman Brian Birkhoff returned to the lineup since sustaining a concussion nine weeks ago.
“It was a little tough at first [coming back],” Birkhoff said. “But I felt a couple shifts in I got my legs back… [and] although it’s unfortunate we put out a product like that, it’s nice to be back to hopefully help out the team.”
The Rams have now lost two in a row after ending the fall term with a 4-2 loss to Brock. They are back in action on Jan. 9 when they visit the UQTR Patriotes.