By Michael Mazzei
Following an emotional win over the Laurier Golden Hawks, the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team entered their game against the York Lions on Saturday night with a lot of confidence.
The season was going smoothly, and so far mostly everything was going right. But when they left the ice at York’s Canlan Ice Sports complex, the Rams were left asking themselves what went wrong.
The Lions defeated the Rams 4-1 in a dominant performance to maintain their perfect record on the season. Now, Ryerson sits in third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) west with a 4-2-0 record, and head coach Johnny Duco was disappointed by his team’s lack of effort against a talented York squad.
“I don’t think we competed hard enough for 60 minutes,” he said. “We’re not talented enough of a group to win games against top-end teams like York if we don’t compete for 60 minutes.”
Early on, both teams had good scoring opportunities, but Rams goalie Mario Culina and Lions goalie Mack Shields weren’t letting anything past them.
About 13 minutes in, the Lions’ Colton Vannucci redirected a shot to beat Culina and give York a one-goal lead.
After that, York continued to press and took control of the game. Ryerson took a pair of penalties, and on their second penalty kill, the Rams mustered up a few short-handed chances. But the Rams couldn’t beat Shields, and after one, were outshot 16-7.
The score could have been a lot worse were it not for Culina.
“He was solid, you can’t fault him for any of the goals [he gave up tonight],” Duco said. “We were happy with his performance in this game and the loss is definitely not on him.”
In the second, Ryerson played sloppily in their own end, and it was up to Culina to prevent the Lions from blowing the game wide open. The rookie netminder did his part to weather the storm, and temporarily gave the Rams hope for a comeback, but on offence, Ryerson struggled to challenge Shields.
With nine minutes left in the period, a shot from Stefano Pezzetta redirected off the skate of Rams defenseman Austin Clapham past Culina to increase York’s lead to two. The Lions continued to dominate offensively, and had 35 shots before the third period even started.
Just 18 seconds into the third, York made it 3-0. About seven minutes later, Rams blueliner Alex Leader finally broke Shields’ shutout with a shorthanded marker assisted by Vince Figliomeni to cut the lead to two.
From there, Ryerson tried to come back, but it was far too little too late, and York’s Trevor Petersen scored an empty netter with 34 seconds left to seal the 4-1 victory for the Lions.
“We’ll put this one behind us and we’re not going to dwell on it,” Duco said. “We’ll have a good week of practice and we’ll gear up for a really tough Waterloo team looking for blood against us.”
Up Next: The Rams will look to bounce back when they visit Waterloo to take on the Warriors at CIF Arena on Nov. 3rd. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.