It was a successful first Ontario University Athletics (OUA) tournament for both Ryerson Rams curling teams this weekend in St. Catharines. Both the men’s and the women’s teams showed improvement from last season’s OUA championships and demonstrated they were capable of taking control of games even without the last rock advantage.
The men’s team, which was a win away from a playoff berth at the OUA championships in 2016, lost its first game in the Brock University Invitational Bonspiel but then posted three straight victories to finish the weekend at 3-1-0.
Facing off against the Waterloo Warriors in their first game, the Rams got off to a strong defensive start. The Rams were able to limit the number of rocks in play and entered the final two ends in a 2-2 tie, neither team being able to score more than one point in an end.
The turning point came in the seventh end, when an outstanding angled hit-and-roll-in takeout from Waterloo’s skip, John Willsey, turned a Ryerson steal of one into three points for the Warriors. Ryerson was forced to concede the game after running out of rocks in the eighth end, losing 5-2.
“You can’t guard against shots like that,” Rams’s skip, Stuart Leslie, said after the game. “He had a couple of other shots to score one… but the shot was there and he took a whirl at it. You’ve got to give him kudos there, he made a nice one,” he said.
In their four games this weekend, the Rams had hammer for 11 ends. They were able to capitalize on their last rock advantages, scoring two or more points in six of those ends, while only giving up points once. It was a big improvement from their performance with hammer at the 2016 OUA Championship. In the 23 ends (over seven games) they had hammer at that tournament, the Rams only scored two or more points six times, while giving up points five times.
The women’s team performed stronger than indicated by their 1-2-1 record. In their second game of the weekend, the Rams found themselves in an early hole against the Trent Excalibur. Two missed draws—the first heavy, the second light—from Rams’s skip, Maggie Macintosh, allowed the Excalibur to steal two points in both the third and fourth ends, making the score go up to 5-1 at the halfway point.
The Rams rebounded brilliantly in the seventh end, scoring four points to tie the game thanks to excellent draws behind cover from both Macintosh and vice, Nicole Titkai. The Rams had the winning rock in position in the eighth end until Excalibur skip, Sarah Daviau, made an inch-perfect draw to the four-foot circle to secure a 7-6 victory.
In their final game of the weekend against the Brock Badgers Junior Varsity team, the Rams did well to deny the Badgers a similar opportunity to win at the death. Trailing 7-6 and without hammer in the eighth end, Macintosh made an excellent hit, narrowly avoiding a Brock guard and taking out the Badgers stone to sit one. Badgers skip Sabrina Anderson tried to follow the same path as Macintosh’s stone but came up light, allowing the Rams to steal a point in the eighth end and end the game tied.
In their four games this weekend, the Rams only gave up three stolen ends for a total of five points. Giving up points with hammer was an issue for the Rams at last year’s OUA Championship. In seven games at that tournament, the Rams lost 20 points over 13 stolen ends, the third-highest total among women’s teams in both those statistics.
Both the men’s and women’s curling teams are in action this weekend in Hamilton for the McMaster University Invitational Bonspiel, the last tournament before the OUA championships in February.
Full Rams Results:
Game 1, vs Waterloo: 5-2 Loss
Game 2, vs Trent: 6-3 Win
Game 3, vs Western: 8-4 Win
Game 4, vs Brock (Junior Varsity team): 10-3 Win
Game 1, vs Waterloo: 5-2 Loss
Game 2, vs Trent: 7-6 Loss
Game 3, vs Western: 7-3 Win
Game 4, vs Brock (Junior Varsity team): 7-7 Tie