Toronto – It’s always a hotly contested matchup when the Toronto Varsity Blues and Ryerson Rams face off, regardless of the sport, and fans will get to see the latest in the cross-town rivalry when the two squads take to the ice for what should be another well-written chapter in the ever-evolving rivalry as this week’s OUA Marquee Matchup, powered by Planters.
A year ago, the teams were separated by just one point in the standings; a season that saw them dividing by just three goals for and six goals against, with each side earning the slight edge in one of the respective categories. Toronto also topped the duo with an 87.9 PK%, but the Rams registered a 16.3 PP% to balance the scales. And while last year’s tale was very much built around the neck-and-neck nature in many of these key statistical categories, they’ve picked up right where they left off in the opening games this year as well.
Through four contests, Ryerson once again holds a one-point cushion, scoring one more goal than Toronto, while both have let nine in against. One area that has seen some rare separation, meanwhile, is on the powerplay, as the Varsity Blues have gotten off to a blistering start with the player advantage through the first four game (6-for-21). Their 28.6% success rate paces the conference and they’ll hope that their special teams play can be a difference-maker against what has been the third-ranked penalty kill (94.7%) thus far. And while the season-long stat similarities have carried over, fans will soon find out if the head-to-heads will do the same.
Last season, the teams split their two games, with two very different types of games. In the first meeting, it was all offence for the two clubs, buoyed by a five-spot from the Rams. Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Kassie Roache (Corunna, Ont.) and Julia Szulewska (Mississauga, Ont.) before Ryerson turned the tables the rest of the way. The home team tied it up at two, and even with a third goal from the Blues to retake the lead, another three markers – an effort that was highlighted by an Ailish Forfar hat trick – gave Ryerson the win. Brooklyn Gemmill (Cambridge, Ont.) and Emma Low-A-Chee (North York, Ont.) were the other goal scorers for Ryerson, while Adrianna Noble (Whitby, Ont.) netted Toronto’s third and final goal.
The encore, however, saw Ryerson hard-pressed to find the score sheet, with Madeline Albert (Whitby, Ont.) shutting the door on the high-octane squad. A pair of first-period goals by Mathilde De Serres (Ville Mont-Royal, Que.) and Jessica Robichaud (Whitby, Ont.) mirrored Toronto’s 2-0 start from their first meeting, but there was no comeback in store in this one, as Lauren Straatman (Thorndale, Ont.) sealed the 3-0 win to bring the season-series to one-apiece.
Among those who have the ability to get their team off on the right foot in the 2018-19 edition of the rivalry are some familiar faces from last year’s meetings, as the likes of De Serres, Roache, and Straatman are among the four Varsity Blues with a team-leading two goals on the year. Ryerson also boasts a quartet of multi-goal scorers and could see continued production from leading-scorers Lauren Nicholson (Dresden, Ont.) and Madison Lalonde (Blenheim, Ont.) against Toronto. Neither team has quite found their stride when it comes to keeping the puck out this season, ranking 10th and 11th in goals against, but both boast the talent in the crease to change that quickly.
So whether it’s another offensive explosion or a defensive-minded outing, one thing that fans can bank on it a closely-contested meeting, just as their stats, their previous meetings, and the tradition of sport rivalries would suggest.
The latest edition of the rivalry will all go down at Varsity Arena, the home of the Varsity Blues, as Toronto will welcome Ryerson for a matinee affair. The puck drops at 11:00am, with all the action airing live on oua.tv or via the corresponding app on Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.