Late penalties and retaliation was the difference in a 5-4 loss for the Ryerson Rams Sunday.
Carrying a 3-2 lead into the third period, the Rams committed a series of infractions that led to a span of five minutes in which the Manitoba Bisons scored three goals. Ryerson is now 1-1-1 in three pre-season games.
While both teams were guilty of numerous penalties in a chippy affair at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the Rams made no excuses.
“It’s a contact game, you are going to be hit,” said head coach Graham Wise outside his team’s dressing room after the game. “I don’t where we’ve come to the point where if someone – and you see it all over in hockey – gets hit and (if) it’s a good check, that there should be a fight.
“Contact’s part of hockey.”
While both teams were guilty of overzealous play, the Rams often took penalties when they on the powerplay, cancelling out opportunities to put the Bisons away when they held the lead.
Domenic Alberga – who has found the score sheet throughout the first three pre-season games, including a power play goal on Sunday – was benched for the third period for doing just that.
The hitting became dangerous at times when Rams forward Victor Terreri received a 10-minute misconduct for head contact and when Bisons defenceman Brock Sutherland took a checking from behind penalty.
“The way we (make) contact is up for discussion,” said Wise about crossing the line with hitting. “You have to be able to take a hit and keep moving and not retaliate off (of ) it.
“I thought today’s game was a bit of a learning process and hopefully we’ll find out if some guys learn from it.”
After Ryerson started the third coming off of a five-on-three power play, Shaquille Merasty scored a wicked one-timer at 1:12 of the final period on a pass from Chad Robinson.
Just over four minutes later on a Bisons five-on-three, Merasty scored his second of the game on a tic-tac-toe play assisted on by Robinson and Aaron Lewadniuk. Just 20 seconds after that, Jesse Paradis put the Bisons up 5-3 and Manitoba held on for the victory.
“Penalties caught up to us,” said Rams goaltender Troy Passingham. “(In) five bad minutes, they scored three goals and that was the turning point right there.”
The Rams responded to make it 5-4 with under five minutes to play but it wasn’t enough.
“I’m sure it would have been better to start the period like that but when we get down we never give up so that’s always good to see,” said Passingham.
After emphasizing the virtues of discipline, the Rams tried to look beyond Sunday towards their next opportunity. Their shot totals in the pre-season so far – including a 45-32 advantage against the Bisons – may be something to build on.
“I think that’s a product of our (players’) efforts,” said Wise. “Unfortunately shots on goal don’t win you hockey games, it’s the ones that go past (the goaltender). It’s a good thing as long as (our players) are taking care of details defensively.”
Passingham referenced the team’s successful finish last year (17-11) and looked to build upon that foundation.
“We scored a lot of goals last year,” he said. “Hopefully we don’t have to do that too many more times (and) just play solid defence. We’ll be good again this year and we’re gonna win a lot of games.”
The Rams next games are against nearby rivals York and U of T on Friday and Saturday.
“They’re downtown rivalries,” said Passingham.
“We always want to beat them.”