Circle the date: Ryerson’s top remaining regular season games

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By Daniel Rocchi

As the second half of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regular season plays out and the playoff picture for each sport becomes clearer, The Eyeopener examines the most important regular season games remaining for Ryerson’s varsity teams.

 

Men’s Basketball

Record: 11-0 (1st OUA East)

U Sports national ranking: 4th

The game: Friday, Feb. 17 (8 p.m.) @ Carleton

The defending OUA champion Carleton Ravens were on the losing end of history when the Rams erased a 13-point halftime deficit on Coca-Cola Court in the Wilson Cup Final last March, giving Ryerson its first-ever OUA title. After missing each other at last year’s national tournament, this will be the first time these teams have faced each other since the OUA Final. It’s also the first of back-to-back games for Ryerson, its last two contests of the regular season. Two road games in two nights against the Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees, currently the first and second ranked teams in Canada, will define the momentum the Rams take into the playoffs to defend their title.

For the best home game left on the men’s basketball schedule, check out the Rams’ Jan. 25 matchup against McMaster (currently the 10th ranked team in Canada), or this season’s final Downtown Showdown against the University of Toronto on Feb. 10. Both games tip off at 8 p.m.

 

Women’s Basketball

Record: 9-2 (2nd OUA East)

U Sports national ranking: 7th

The game: Friday, Feb, 3 (6 p.m.) vs. Queen’s

Ryerson might be the defending OUA champions, but right now it looks like they’ll be the underdogs in this matchup. Queen’s currently boasts a 10-0 record, the only perfect women’s basketball season left in Canada. One of those wins, a 79-75 overtime decision in Kingston, Ont., came at Ryerson’s expense earlier this month. A win on home court would avenge that loss and split the season series. Ryerson currently sits just two points back of the Gaels for first place in the OUA East division, meaning that this contest could have serious implications for the regular season’s final standings and home court advantage in the playoffs.

 

Men’s Volleyball

Record: 7-3 (1st OUA East)

U Sports national ranking: not ranked

The game: Saturday, Jan. 21 (8 p.m.) @ Nipissing

Ryerson’s most important match left on the schedule could very well be this one. The visiting Rams currently hold a slim two-point lead over the Lakers for first in the OUA East division, but Nipissing has played just seven matches to Ryerson’s 10. That difference will shrink when the Lakers host U of T on Friday night, but Nipissing comes into that match undefeated at home and riding a four-match winning streak overall. A Lakers win over U of T on Friday would leave the Rams in second place behind Nipissing before their match on Saturday even begins. Nipissing already beat Ryerson 3-0 in November on Coca-Cola Court. Repaying the Lakers for that home loss would give Ryerson a bit of breathing room at the top of the division and a split of the season series.

Ryerson’s top remaining home game is Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m., when the Rams face the visiting McMaster Marauders, who defeated Ryerson in the OUA championship last year. At 7-0, McMaster currently sits atop the OUA West division and holds the number two ranking in Canada, behind B.C.’s Trinity Western University. With only three contests remaining after their match against the Marauders and championship aspirations, this game will say a lot about the Rams heading into the playoffs.  

 

Women’s Volleyball

Record: 7-3 (2nd OUA East)

U Sports national ranking: not ranked

The game: Wednesday, Feb. 8 (6 p.m.) vs. McMaster

With 14 points through 10 matches and nine games left in their regular season, the Rams certainly aren’t running away with the OUA East division, or even leading it. But the team is well-positioned, and there’s no reason to expect Ryerson to miss the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. While the Rams can’t overlook their Jan. 21 match against Nipissing, who already beat Ryerson in November, the biggest remaining challenge of the season is the tilt against McMaster.

Though they’ve struggled lately, dropping two consecutive matches for a 7-2 record and second place in the OUA West, the Marauders won the OUA title in 2014 and have been a nationally ranked team all season before falling out of the top 10 last week. The contest against McMaster will be major measuring stick for a Rams squad looking to improve on last year’s silver-medal finish in the OUA playoffs before Ryerson hosts the national tournament in March.  

 

Men’s Hockey

Record: 15-4-1 (1st, OUA West)

U Sports national ranking: 7th

The game: Tuesday, Feb. 7 (7:15 p.m.) vs. Guelph

With a slim three-point lead on first place in the OUA West, it’ll be hard for Ryerson not to spend too much time checking the rearview mirror down the stretch as it aims to finish atop an OUA division for the first time in program history. Having dropped both games of the season to second-place York, the biggest threat that Ryerson can still deal with directly is an all-too-familiar foe: the Guelph Gryphons. The Gryphons were Ryerson’s opponent in the second round of last year’s playoffs. After dropping the first game of their best-of-three series, the Rams won a thrilling home game in overtime to force a game three and mark the longest OUA playoff run in team history. But Guelph ended Ryerson’s season in heartbreaking fashion, routing the visiting Rams 11-3 in the deciding game.

The Feb. 7 matchup is the first game between the two teams since that playoff series. It’s the first of two tilts against Guelph to round out Ryerson’s regular season, as well as the Rams’ final regular season home game. For a team that’s already set several program records this year, few things would give them more momentum on the eve of the playoffs than beating the team that eliminated them last year.

 

Women’s Hockey

Record: 4-1-8-3 (12th OUA)

U Sports national ranking: not ranked

The game: Friday, Feb. 10 (7:15 p.m.) vs. Laurentian

With four straight losses and just two goals for so far in 2017, the Rams have fallen into 12th place in the 13-team OUA and out of the playoff picture. With five points and three teams separating the Rams and the Brock Badgers, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff seed, Ryerson has virtually no room for error down the stretch. Tied with the Badgers at 22 points are the Laurentian Voyageurs. The Feb. 10 clash with Laurentian will be the end of a four-game stretch that sees Ryerson play the Voyageurs twice, and Queen’s and Brock once each. If the Rams can find the win column against Brock and in their first game versus Laurentian, a victory in their second clash with the Voyageurs could give new relevance to Ryerson’s last three games of the regular season, as the team tries to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. But things don’t get any easier for the Rams after the Laurentian game; Ryerson’s last three opponents – Nipissing, Toronto and Waterloo – currently sit second, third and fourth in the OUA, respectively.   
*All statistics and standings accurate as of Jan. 19, 2017*

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