By Kevin Gonsalves
In two weekend games, the hockey team proved they finally have the offensive skills to pay the bills.
On Saturday, the Rams played one of their toughest home games of the season and beat the Concordia University Stingers 6-5 in overtime.
On Sunday, they narrowly lost to the University of Quebec at Trois Rivieres (UQTR) Patriotes 5-3.
The win, over previously unbeaten Concordia, came on a goal by defenceman Peter Hoppe a minute into overtime.
“That was the biggest goal I’ve ever scored for Ryerson,” said Hoppe, who came off the boards and took a stab at the puck to knock it in.
The team are 3-2-0 in the OUA mid east division. All three of their wins this season have come in overtime.
“Their confidence right now is outstanding,” said assistant coach Jim Peffers. “They believe in themselves and in their teammates.”
The victory was a credit to the excellent goaltending of John Sikkema, and the strong play of the team’s second line of Tyler Moss, Mark McMillan and brother Greg McMillan, which combined for four goals and eight points.
The second line has given the Rams, a team that struggled hopelessly for offense last year, a good one-two punch up front.
“We’re all pretty good passers, and we’ve been playing together for a while now,” said Greg McMillan. “We believe we can beat any team in the country.”
Against Concordia, Sikkema faced 49 shots and stopped 44. He has been the goaltender in all three of Ryerson’s wins.
“Our goaltending has kept us in games all season,” said McMillan.
Against UQTR on Sunday, Ryerson rested Sikkema in favour of last year’s starting goale, Steve Bewley. In the first game of the season, he gave up seven goals to the York University Yeomen and has been on the bench since.
At times during the 5-3 loss, he was outstanding. He was run over by UQTR players twice in the first two periods, but still made several spectacular saves to keep the Rams in the game.
Near the end of the second period, Ryerson was down 1-0. Then a string of penalties, including a Justin Norwood five minute major for slashing, led to the Rams being shorthanded for close to seven minutes.
The Patriotes scored three times before the Rams ever got back to even strength.
Ryerson stormed back in the last 10 minutes of the third. They scored once on the powerplay. Then with four minutes left, scored twice to close to within a goal.
In the final minutes of the game, Ryerson missed several good opportunities to tie, and UQTR scored an empty net goal with 16 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
“We have two good goalies,” said Peffers, referring to the decision of benching Sikkema for Bewley. “It’s important to get them both working in case we need one later.”
On Friday, the Rams travel east to play McGill University in Montreal. On Saturday they face the University of Ottawa.