Rams struggle to score, face early second round loss to Guelph in Game 1

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By Kintaro Skinner

The fans at Mattamy Athletic Centre came for a Ryerson-led offensive rampage, but left disappointed as the Guelph Gryphons surged to a 4-1 victory in game one over the Rams men’s hockey team on the road on Feb. 21.

With the win, the Gryphons take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series in the second round of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Queen’s Cup playoffs.

“I just felt we got outworked tonight,” Rams head coach Johnny Duco said post-game.

It was a surprising occurrence in Ryerson’s season as they could only beat Guelph goaltender Andrew Masters once in 60 minutes of play. Two of Ryerson’s top scorers in Matt Mistele and Mathew Santos were held off of the scoresheet and struggled to create any opportunities on net.

The Rams were only able to muster one goal off a Steven Harland tap-in.

“All four lines have to find a way to chip in; we need twelve forwards going [all the time] and that’s how we’ll be successful,” said assistant captain Vince Figliomeni.

Guelph, on the other hand, were able to muster whatever chances they wanted all game long. They outshot their opposition 32-24 and capitalized on some uncharacteristic mistakes by the Rams.

Among those mistakes led to Guelph’s second goal of the game, which was credited to the man with the hottest stick in the OUA, Todd Winder.

Winder teed up a wide open snapshot in the low slot after Ryerson captain Alex Basso lost his balance at his blueline giving the Gryphons’ sniper a wide open path to the net.

Although Guelph’s star collected his eighth and ninth points of the playoffs, Duco felt his team kept him relatively silent.

“I don’t think he created much on his own [tonight], I thought we did a pretty good job against him for the most part; we’re not worried about any particular player per se, we’re more focused on ourselves,” said Duco.

Teamwise, Guelph maintained a stark, speedy style with an aggressive forecheck which Ryerson was unable to counter all game long. The Rams lost battles in the corners on both ends of the ice and were often stunned by multiple pinches on the blue line by Gryphons defencemen

Their cold offence trickled into their powerplay as well, as the OUA’s number one regular season unit continued their post-season cold spell as they dropped to zero for 11 with the man advantage in the playoffs.

“We weren’t going to go this whole playoffs undefeated, likely, so we [have] got to go out there Saturday night and have our best game of the year,” added Duco.

UP NEXT: The best-of-three series shifts to Guelph at the Gryphon Centre for game two, as the Rams will look to tie the series at 1-1. Game time is scheduled for Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

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