By Devin Jones
In front of a packed Varsity Arena full of screaming middle school children, the Ryerson men’s hockey team (12-11) lost a close game 3-2 against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (11-12), in an early morning game dubbed the “downtown showdown”.
Despite outshooting the Blues 36-17, the Rams couldn’t find the back of the net and are still a win away from clinching a playoff spot.
“We had a really good first period. Dominated and outshot them the entire game, but you know they were going to get read the riot act in the dressing room. They came out swinging in the second,” said head coach Graham Wise. “We threw everything at them in the third and you have to give credit to [Brett] Willow for standing on his head.”
The first period saw the Rams firing on all cylinders. Outshooting the Blues 15-5, Rams winger Mitch Gallant notched his 12th goal of the season and the only goal of the period.
After the opening intermission, the Blues emerged from the dressing room a determined team. Toronto winger Paul Van De Velde tied the game seconds into the period. Rams captain Michael Fine would briefly put Ryerson ahead, scoring his ninth of the season, before Toronto defenseman Corey Jackson and winger Michael Markovic put the Blues ahead 3-2.
“With the crowd, it was definitely something to get used to. My first shift, guys were yelling about pucks coming my way and I couldn’t hear them,” said Fine. “You don’t get moral wins in this league, we need to capitalize on efforts like this. The effort was there and we had chances late, so hats off to their goalie for making some great saves towards the end.”
The third period would see much of the same, as the Rams threw everything they had at goalie Brett Willow who stymied the Ryerson offence, stopping 34 of 36 shots. Stellar defensive play from the Blues, including four blocked shots, certainly contributed to Toronto securing their 13th win of the season.
“I know it’s a cliché, but we need guys showing up, we need the whole team showing up,” said Wise. “We need everybody going, in order to play a good team like that.”
The Rams will play the Carlton Ravens Friday, Jan. 30, at the Ice House in Ottawa. The game will start at 7 p.m.