By James Mirtle
Whew, what a relief — now we can get that big, fat monkey off our backs.
The Rams men’s hockey team bumped their 12-game losing slump on Sunday afternoon, hacking and slashing their way to a 5-3 win over the Royal Military College Paladins. Fifth-year veteran Mark McMillan netted two goals and an assist, including the game-winner with just over six minutes remaining in the third period.
“This was a must win game for us,” said assistant coach Ken Farrell. “We knew if we didn’t win, they would move ahead of us (in the standings). It wasn’t a pretty hockey game, but we’re happy with the result.”
It was a physical opening frame, and Rams’ defenceman Matt Robinson wowed the crowd by dishing a few big hits early on. Sophomore centre Chris Pethick opened the scoring with two minutes remaining in the first period, as he wired home a Steve Farquharson pass to put Ryerson up by one.
In the second, the Paladins rallied early on a power-play marker by rookie nick Cregan. Then, with RMC bruiser James Routledge in the box, McMillan tipped a shot by twin brother Greg between the pads of netminder Blair Robertson to restore the one-goal lead. Cregan responded with his second of the game two minutes later, before twin-power kicked in again and Greg McMillan pushed the score to 3-2.
Paladins’ left-winger Michael Clark notched the tying goal one minute into the third, as a bouncing puck eluded Rams’ goalie Joel Schriver. With six minutes remaining and a possible playoff spot on the line, Pethick tossed the puck up the left boards to Mark McMillan, who blew past the lone defender and put the puck past a sprawling Robertson. Pethick closed the scoring with 19 seconds remaining, firing his second of the night into the empty net. The goal was his fourth in the last three games.
“Chris (Pethick) has been a bright spot all year for us,” said Farrell. “He’s consistently one of the best players on the ice.”
“It feels good (to contribute),” said Pethick with a smile. “It was right down to the end, and we got a good team effort.”
Petick and Mark McMillan both finished the game with three points, while Greg McMillan, Justin Norwood and Graeme Henderson al chipped in with two each. Rams’ rookie defenceman Brett Tiskan, playing in just his sixth game due to injury, picked up an impressive 24 penalty minutes, including a game misconduct following a second period melee.
“I like looking at good news,” said head coach Ed Kirsten as he eyed the games’ score sheet. “We didn’t play great. I’d say we played adequately. (We’re making) baby steps.”
“Down the stretch we should that we had character, and this win will go a long way towards next weekends’ games.”
Ryerson was out shot 55-39 in what was an entertaining, wide-open game, and Schriver battled hard in his first start since joining the team two weeks ago. Regular started Braden Deane got a well-deserved rest after playing in Saturday’s game against Queen’s University.
“He had a great game,” said Pethick of his new backtop. “He does a great job moving the puck up to the forwards like he did on the game-winner.”
“(Schriver) won — the next game is his (to start),” said Kirsten. “That’s the way we’re doing it: you win, you play.”
In addition to Schriver, Kirsten was impressed with one other recent addition to the team.
“(Ross) Marshall, our new defenceman, was outstanding.”
This week, the Rams hit the road for rematches against Queen’s University on Friday night and Royal Military College on Saturday afternoon.
In other hockey action, the Rams fell 4-1 Saturday to the visiting Queen’s University Golden Gaels. Ryerson’s lone tally was an assisted goal by Pethick, and the Rams were out shot 36-18. Gaels netminder Matt Kennedy (5-9-0) nabbed the win, while the Rams’ Braden Deane (1-12-0) was handed the loss.