By Josh Beneteau
The Ryerson women’s hockey team opened their first round playoff series against the Guelph Gryphons with a 2-1 loss in overtime.
Guelph’s Kelly Gribbons slid the puck under Ryerson goalie Ally Sarna late in the first overtime frame to seal the win for the second place Guelph over seventh place Rams, who were playing in their first playoff game in program history.
“It was what I was hoping for, where we were still in the game in the third period,” said head coach Lisa Haley on the phone from Guelph. “They get a couple advantages on some bounces and that’s how it ends up, but for our first playoff game how can you be disappointed.”
Ryerson opened the game with a bang, carrying the play and outshooting Guelph 7-0 early. One of those seven shots came from Emma Rutherford on a breakaway, which beat Guelph goalie Stephanie Nehring under the blocker to put Ryerson up 1-0.
“We wanted to make sure we were confident and calm because it’s obviously a big moment for us,” said Haley “I loved our start, that’s exactly what we wanted.”
After the goal Guelph seemed to find their legs and they carried the play for the second half of the period. The period ended with Guelph outshooting the Rams 10-8 and Ryerson’s Sarna was forced to make a couple big saves, including one without her stick, to keep her team in the lead.
“It looked like we poked the sleeping bear a bit and they came onto us after we scored,” Haley said.
The second period and most of the third played out the same way; with Ryerson on the defensive side most of the time and Sarna shutting the door. But then Guelph tied it 1-1 late. A shot from defenceman Averi Nooren on the blue line hits Sarna’s catching glove and trickled in.
“It was important to make sure that even though we gave up one, we had to get out of that period and get it to overtime,” Haley said. “It was deflating but we regrouped as best as we could and we were able to make sure the momentum didn’t stick with them.”
Overtime saw the action spread out with Ryerson’s Kayla Karbonik and Kaitlyn Mullett. But in the end Gribbons scored and the comeback was complete with Guelph taking the first game.
“They have more experience and more depth,” Haley said. “They are the favourite in this thing and for us, we’re trying to get some miles under our belt just from being in this playoff atmosphere.”
The teams will play the second game of their best of three series on Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m. at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.