Gryphs power up to double Ryerson in series opener
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons were perfect on their power play as they doubled the Ryerson Rams 4-2 in the opening game of the OUA women’s hockey league semifinal Wednesday night at the Gryphon Centre.
The Gryphs scored on both of their power plays to help claim the win in a game that saw all three periods follow the same script. The Gryphs pressed early and then Ryerson put the pressure on later in a period in an attempt to catch up.
“When they get going and cycling and in zone, it’s pretty tough to stop them,” Gryphon coach Rachel Flanagan said. “We talked a little bit about that between the second and third and did a little bit better job in the third period. But even when we have possession, it’s tough to get pucks out because of the way they forecheck. It’s something that we were prepared for, but it’s something that we still need to look at, especially going into their rink which is a little bit smaller.”
As is always the case in a best-of-three series, the first game is always a crucial one to win.
“It’s hard to put a team away, but it’s harder to play two games back to back where your season is on the line,” Flanagan said. “That’s a big win for us. Our (Olympic-side) rink was an advantage tonight, for sure. We looked fast. By Friday I feel they’re going to be tired. Their last series was long and lots of travel and went into overtime for two of the games. Hopefully we can take advantage of that. I feel we’re pretty well rested. We’ve got good speed that we can use in that smaller rink.”
“It’s huge,” Gryphon forward Claire Merrick said of the win. “We have the momentum now and we just need to win one more game and then we book a ticket to the championships.”
While the Gryphs swept the Brock Badgers out of the quarter-finals in three games, the Rams won their quarter-final series with the Queen’s Gaels 2-1. Queen’s won the opener before Ryerson came back with a pair of 2-1 overtime victories to take the series. The Rams won Game 2 at home with a goal in the second overtime period and they took Game 3 in Kingston Sunday with a goal after almost 10 minutes of extra play.
Wednesday’s win leaves the Gryphs one victory away from hosting the OUA championship McCaw Cup game and qualifying the the U Sports national tournament March 14 to 17 at the MacLauchlan Arena in the Charlottetown’s Bell Aliant Centre.
Wednesday, Miranda Lantz hit for a power-play goal in the second and captain Kaitlin Lowy added the other power-play marker on an unassisted effort in the third that wound up being an insurance marker.
The Gryphs never trailed in the game and they led 1-0 at the end of the first period and 2-1 after the second.
Madison Melo and Merrick scored the other goals for the Gryphs while assists went to Sydney Davison, Gabby Smyth and Lowy.
Tori Butler and Lauren Nicholson scored for Ryerson while Mariah Hinds and Erika Crouse collected assists.
The Gryphs were outshot 32-24 and the Rams went 1-for-2 on their power play.
Valerie Lamenta had 30 saves for the win while Fanny Vigeant had 20 saves for Ryerson.
Second game of the OUA semifinal with Ryerson is set for Friday at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
“They’re going to come out even harder and it’s hard to win when a team is desperate,” Merrick said. “It’s really Important to come out hard next game and get the first goal.
“We just have to keep on doing what we’re doing – just get on them hard and capitalize on their mistakes.”
If Ryerson wins Friday’s game, the third and final game of the series is to be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Gryphon Centre.
Gryphons 4 Rams 2
1. Guelph, Melo (unassisted), 5:17
2. Ryerson, Butler (unassisted), 13:23
3. Guelph, Lantz (Davison, Smyth), 15:39 pp
Penalties: Jay Gue (hooking), 8:38; Giardetti Ry (head contact), 14:10.
4. Guelph, Merrick (Lowy), 7:52
5. Ryerson, Nicholson (Hinds, Crouse), 10:28 pp
6. Guelph, Lowy (unassisted), 13:19 pp
Penalties: Lantz Gue (roughing after the whistle), 9:17; Farren Ry (holding), 12:44.
Shots on Goal
Goalies: Vigeant (L, 24 shots-20 saves), Ryerson; Lamenta (W, 32 shots-30 saves), Guelph.
Power Plays (goals-chances): Ryerson 1-2; Guelph 2-2.
- Guelph Sports Journal