By Brandon Buechler
It began as an exciting night with near-full stands, but ended with a silent Ryerson crowd as the Rams men’s hockey team (11-8-1) fell to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (9-9-2), 7-4.
“We just didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” said Ryerson’s captain Michael Fine. “We didn’t stick to the game plan, got into some penalty trouble and that’s when things started [going] wrong.”
The game’s scoring opened in the 15th minute, when Varsity Blue’s Patrick Marsh found the back of the net on a Toronto power-play.
Ryerson answered quickly when Fine scored, assisted by Mitch Gallant and Domenic Alberga, to tie the score 1-1.
However, seconds later, Ryerson goalie Troy Passingham’s dreadful night began, as he allowed a weak chip shot over his right pad to give Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Again Ryerson responded, with Jason Kelly bringing the game even at two with three minutes left in the first.
The tie held until late in the second period when Alberga banged home his 13th of the year, giving Ryerson a 3-2 lead.
Ryerson held that score for another 14 minutes, with each team serving a hefty number of penalties, something head coach Graham Wise felt cost the Rams the game.
“[Toronto] has one of the best power-plays in the game and they executed that,” he said.
With 1:50 left in the second period, Toronto tied it again at 3 and just two minutes into the third, they gave themselves a 4-3 lead, firing past a seemingly bewildered Passingham.
Aside from another Ryerson goal at the 15-minute mark to tie it at four, the contest appeared to unravel entirely for the Rams.
At the 13-minute mark Toronto returned to lead, 5-4, when Passingham looked to trip as the play entered Ryerson’s territory. The puck skipped easily over his frame and into the back of the net.
Ryerson’s frustration was near palpable, and reared its head at the 9:43 mark when Alberga checked Patrick Marsh from behind, slamming him into the boards.
Marsh collapsed to the ice and stayed down, prompting a visit from both squads’ medical staff. Marsh eventually returned to the bench, walking under his own power.
Alberga received a ten-minute misconduct penalty, and at one point there was three Ryerson Rams in the penalty box.
While on the 5-on-3 power play, Toronto gave themselves a 6-4 lead, then brought it to 7-4 with five minutes to go.
Ryerson’s focus looked to change from scoring goals to exacting physical revenge on the scrappy Toronto team - the most penalized team in the league, as Wise pointed out after the game.
A pair of fights broke out in Toronto’s zone, sending Ram Kyle Blaney to the box, along with a couple of Varsity Blues’ players. The three could be seen and heard arguing between each other while in the boxes.
“It comes down to execution and clearly they executed better than us,” Wise said. “Frustration set in instead of hard work.”
Ryerson’s next game comes against third-place Waterloo, and it’s something he says the team needs to come prepared for.
“They’ve got a good team,” Wise said. “They need to study, watch video, come to practice and be prepared.”
The game, a 90’s Theme Night, comes Jan. 22 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at 7:30 p.m.