The Ryerson Rams curling teams each had to bounce back after a winless second day at the OUA Championships, and did so brilliantly on Saturday. Both teams played twice on the third day of the round–robin, and each team emerged with two important wins. With their results, the men’s team kept their glimmer of hope alive but will still require outside help on the final day of the round robin. With just one game in their round–robin to go, the women’s team is on the verge of clinching a first-ever playoff berth for Ryerson’s curling program in just its second year of competition.
Entering the day at 1-3, the Rams women’s team could not afford another loss in their pursuit of the playoffs. Their first opponent of the day, the Trent Excalibur, entered the game at 3-1 and had scored seven points or more in each of their wins. With hammer in the first end, the Rams struggled to draw behind cover but still had themselves in position to score two. Needing a hit-and-stick with her final stone, Rams skip Maggie Macintosh hit and rolled away to score only a single with hammer.
The second end saw Macintosh redeem herself, winning the skip battle with the Excalibur’s Sarah Daviau. With the Rams sitting one, Macintosh made a great draw to the four foot with her first shot and guard it with her second. Two straight missed draws from Daviau turned what had started off a strong end for the Excalibur into a Rams steal of two.
Daviau continued to struggle with her draw weight as the game went on. After two more brilliant draws from Macintosh in the third end, Daviau’s final stone once again sailed through the house to give the Rams a second consecutive steal of two. With more rocks in play in the fourth and fifth ends, Daviau tried to hit with her stones, but was unable to find the right line. The Excalibur gave up two more steals and shook hands after the fifth end to concede a 9-0 loss. It was the first game in the tournament where the losing team had failed to score a single point.
The huge momentum the Rams carried into their afternoon game against the Western Mustangs wouldn’t last long. Relying on a strong hitting game in the first, the Mustangs forced Macintosh to throw her final stone through the house to blank the first end. The Mustangs kept going shot-for-shot with the Rams to force Macintosh into another blank in the second end. The Rams did a better job setting up their guards in the third end, but a few of their hit-and-stick attempts rolled out of play and forced them to blank for a third straight end.
The turning point came in the fourth end, where on her final shot, Mustangs skip Carolyne Graham overcurled to tap a Rams guard into the house to sit two. Macintosh drew another in the with the last shot of the end to give the Rams a 3-0 lead at the fourth end break.
Macintosh saved her finest work for the sixth end. With the Rams sitting two, Macintosh placed an excellent guard on the right side of the ice with her first to prevent a Western tap-back. With two rocks from each team scattered around the four foot, Macintosh spectacularly added a fifth, curling behind multiple guards and landing her rock almost fully in the four foot circle to score another three with hammer. The Mustangs would get one back in the seventh end, but the Rams hit them out of rocks in the eighth to secure a 6-2 win.
With Saturday’s results, the women’s team sits at 3-3 and with a win against UOIT (0-6) would be in a tie with the loser of the Trent-Laurentian game for the final playoff spot. Making that leap into the post–season would represent a big step forward for the young program.
“Going from how close we were with both teams last year, if we can take that extra step and get to the playoffs I think that would be huge,” Rams men’s skip Stuart Leslie said of the women’s team’s performance. Leslie, along with men’s vice Alex Champ, were two of the key figures in getting the program up and running last season.
“A playoff run at OUAs would go a long way to the school noticing this isn’t just a competitive club team,” Leslie said, saying that getting varsity sport designation (and funding) from the university has always been “the ultimate goal.”
After losing their first three games of the tournament, the Rams men’s team needed to win all four of their remaining round robin games to have a chance at making the playoffs. The first of those wins had to come against the UOIT Ridgebacks, who had also posted an 0-3 record coming into the game. Starting the game without hammer, Ryerson skip Stuart Leslie did well to guard the middle of the sheet and force the Ridgebacks to a single point. With hammer in the second, a brilliant runback double takeout from vice Alex Champ put the Rams in control of the house ahead of skip stones. After Leslie did well to draw behind cover and sit three, Ridgebacks skip Nick Meyede saw his own draw attempt come up heavy and sail right through the house. Leslie would draw in another stone with the last shot of the end to score a huge four points.
After the teams traded two-point scores in the third and fourth ends, the Rams once again played well without last shot advantage in the fifth. Champ, whose play seemed to improve with every end, made two good peels to take away Ridgebacks guards. Unable to set up a multiple point score, Meyede was forced to throw his final stone away to blank the end and preserve hammer.
The Rams continued to dominate in the sixth and final end. More great peels from Champ and second Henry Lin, coupled with multiple missed draws from the Ridgebacks, allowed the Rams to sit four. Meyede’s final shot once again failed to curl enough, sailing past everything in the house to give the Rams another steal of four and a 10-3 win.
The Rams looked to maintain their rediscovered form in their afternoon game against the Laurentian Voyageurs. Although the Voyageurs entered the game at 0-4, excellent shot making from skip Derek Leung carried them to a 3-2 lead after 2 ends. Following a Rams score of two with hammer in the fourth end, the Voyageurs were able to get multiple rocks in behind cover in the sixth end to sit and ultimately score three to take a 6-4 lead.
The Rams remained competitive in the later stages of the game, setting up a thrilling final end. Down one but with hammer, the were able to sit two early and go back-and-forth with the Voyageurs on takeouts. Needing a double takeout to force the Rams to a single point and go to an extra end, Leung’s second hit didn’t get the required curl. Leung hit one of the Rams stones sitting on the far left side of the house, but his rock rolled out and the Rams rock he hit jammed with the other Rams rock to stay in the house. Needing to sit anywhere in the house for the win, Leslie drew just inches off the button to seal a hard-earned 8-7 win.
With their two wins, the Rams carry a 2-3 record into the final day of the round robin. They’ll need two wins in their final two games (against Brock and U of T) plus help from other teams to sneak into a playoff spot.
Boxscores for Rams Games:
*LSFE = last stone first end*
Standings for men and women (just the pools they are in):
|Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks||5-1|
|U of T Varsity Blues||5-0|