Rams Insider: Women’s hockey team taking big strides in 2014-15 season

Kayla Karbonik

The Rams women’s hockey team is making some noise in the CIS this season. (Courtesy Emma Ewing-Nagy)

Any franchise, whether it’s the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team or the Buffalo Sabres, is going to take bumps along the road.

For the Rams, it has been a difficult transition over the past three years.

As they enter their fourth season as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) school, expectations continue to increase, as they have on a year-to-year basis.

The Rams had a four-game winning streak (first in team regular season history) snapped on Sunday with a 2-0 loss to No. 9 Western. In that four-game stretch, they defeated two CIS top 10 schools, Toronto and Laurier.

The fact of the matter is, this current edition of the women’s hockey team can compete and they can win games.

Keep this in mind — entering this season, the team had a combined record of 8-64-4. Yes, you were able to count all their wins on two hands. Already this year, Ryerson (5-5-0) has five wins.

For veterans like captain Jessica Hartwick, Melissa Wronzberg, Nadine Paul, Kaitlyn Mullett and Chloe Richardson, it has been a long, challenging road.

A step in the right direction was taken last year when, under the direction of interim head coach Pierre Alain, the team put together a good first half of the season before failing to win any games after the holiday break.

When Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medalist coach Lisa Haley took over her team again, there was curiosity to see how the Rams would shape up. Haley took the 2013-14 season off to focus on the Canadian senior women’s national team.

A lot of this year’s recruits were found by Alain, who is now the head coach of the Carleton Ravens women’s program, and former coach Michelle Janus.

The team’s biggest problem the last three seasons has been scoring. Despite strong defensive performances from time-to-time, they couldn’t put the puck in the net.

In the team’s first two seasons, it scored 35 goals in 26 games. Playing two fewer games in 2013-14, the Rams managed only 34 goals.

Through 10 games so far in 2014-15, they already have 20.

Newcomers such as Emma Rutherford and Kayla Karbonik have found early success. Karbonik, a rookie, is second in team scoring with seven points. Rutherford, a transfer from SUNY Plattsburgh, has four goals and two assists.

The most consistent offensive force over the last four years has been Wronzberg. An assistant captain this season and team MVP from last year, she leads the team in scoring with eight points.

It will be interesting to see how the team comes back after its most recent loss. They Rams currently sit one point out of a playoff spot.

If the team can keep doing what made it successful through its winning streak, this could be the year the Rams play late into February and into playoff hockey.

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