Seven games are all that are guaranteed for teams at the OUA Curling Championship. The teams that are allowed to play more – the ones that make the playoffs – are those with the smallest margins of error.
Both Ryerson Rams teams went winless in the second day of the round robin, and their margin of error for the rest of the tournament could not be much lower. With each team now sitting at three losses, one more defeat from either team will likely end their hopes of making the playoffs.
The women’s team opened the day facing off against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. After trading singles in the first two ends, the Rams caught a big break in the third end, stealing two after Laurier missed with the final stone of the end. The Golden Hawks would recover well, scoring two with hammer to tie the game again in the 4th end, and then forcing the Rams to blank the fifth end.
In the sixth end without hammer, the Golden Hawks were able to get multiple stones in and around the four foot circle to force Rams skip Maggie Macintosh into a difficult shot for two. Needing to draw behind cover and land fully inside the four foot circle, Macintosh’s draw weight was inch-perfect, scoring a huge two points to give the Rams the lead once more. After the Golden Hawks tied the game yet again in the seventh end, the Rams needed just a single point to complete the stunning upset. But on the last shot of the game, needing her stone to rest fully in the eight foot circle for the win, Macintosh couldn’t replicate her earlier magic. The rock looked good as it entered the house, but it squeaked by two other Rams stones and stopped just two feet too far of where it needed to be.
Although the loss dropped the Rams down to 1-2, their ability to keep the game so close was very commendable. Wilfrid Laurier’s women’s curling team has women the last three OUA championships and has a long history of provincial dominance. Ryerson’s women’s team has only been in existence for two seasons.
Had the Rams kept up their strong play in their afternoon game against the Carleton Ravens, the match could have very well ended in their favour. The Rams started the game well, scoring one with hammer in the first end and then relying on an outstanding angle raise by Macintosh to steal another point in end 2. In the third end, the Rams initially set themselves up nicely for a steal, at one point sitting with three rocks in scoring position, all spread well apart from one another in the house. But a string of successful takeouts, including a hit-and-stick with the final shot of the end, allowed the Ravens to get back into the end and score two.
The game’s turning point came in the fourth end, where both Macintosh and vice Nicole Titkai missed both of their shots. Titkai’s missed takeout and light draw attempt allowed the Ravens to get two stones in scoring position, and they put a third in after Macintosh’s first draw also came up light. Macintosh’s final draw didn’t get the necessary curl, giving the Ravens a huge steal of three.
After the teams exchanged singles in the fifth and sixth ends, the Ravens took out Ryerson’s corner guards with ease and loaded the top of the house with guards to begin the seventh end. The Ravens used their guards to their advantage, getting two stones behind cover and forcing Macintosh to make a difficult draw. Needing to be inch-perfect once again, Macintosh’s final rock just grazed a Ravens guard, giving the Ravens another steal of three and sealing a 9-3 Rams loss.
Although the Rams are only 1-3, they benefit from a weaker schedule in the second half of the round robin. They may have lost big to both Carleton and Laurentian (who they played on Thursday, losing 8-2), but if they can rediscover the form they showed against Laurier, the Rams could have a great chance at ending their tournament on a higher note.
The men’s team only had one game on the schedule for Friday, a matinee with the Waterloo Warriors. The Rams played the Warriors earlier in the season at the Brock Invitational, losing 5-2 in a closely contested game. The rematch would turn out not be as close though.
Starting without hammer, the Rams front end of lead Jonathan U and second Henry Lin did well to take out Warriors rocks, while vice Alex Champ managed to split the house with two well-placed draws. With his final shot of the end though, Stuart Leslie’s hit-and-stick attempt turned into a hit-and-roll-out, allowing the Warriors to blank the end and retain hammer.
The Warriors would capitalize on hammer in the second end, as another missed takeout from Leslie allowed the Warriors to sit and score two. The Rams continued to struggle in the third end, as misses from Lin and Champ forced Leslie to bail the Rams out with a hit-and-stick for a single point.
The Rams did far better in the fourth end to limit the Warriors to a single point, but the teams would alternate scoring singles in the fifth and sixth ends, keeping the Rams in a deficit. Without hammer in the seventh end, the Rams tried to set up guards in the hope of drawing behind and stealing points, but the Warriors had no trouble peeling them away one by one. The Warriors would end up scoring three in the seventh end to seal a 7-2 win.
Failing to get a force out of the Warriors in the first end set a bad course for the game, according to Leslie.
“It kinda started the game on a down,” Leslie said. “We would have been able to build some nice momentum especially after the tough day yesterday… it would have been a nice way to get the game going,” he said.
Leslie said the team’s biggest struggle so far has been getting consistent draw weight, saying it’s normally “something we have in the back pocket.” But Leslie did keep optimistic, saying that weekend temperature changes could cause the ice to get slower. The Rams have experience reacting to those kinds of changing conditions over multi-day tournaments, and Leslie said that could give them a boost in the round robin’s stretch run.
“I don’t think any of us expected to be 0-3 after the first 2 days,” Leslie said.
“But we know the 4 [remaining] teams we’re playing against [UOIT, Laurentian, Brock, and U of T], and we know that we can beat all 4 of them, and we also know that 4 and 3 can get you a playoff spot,” he said.
Both Rams teams play twice on Saturday. The women’s team faces the Trent Excalibur in the morning and the Western Mustangs in the afternoon, while the men take on the UOIT Ridgebacks in the early draw, followed by the Laurentian Voyageurs in their afternoon game.
Boxscores for Rams Games:
|Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks||*||1||0||0||2||0||0||2||1||6|
*LSFE= Last Stone First End*
Standings for men and women (just the pools they are in):
|Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks||3-1|
|Toronto Varsity Blues||3-0|