By Nicolas Heffernan
They came. They conquered.
In the first part of the Quebec invasion, the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes (UQTR) stormed into Toronto and left with a 9-2 win over the struggling Ryerson Rams.
But, although the score may seem lopsided, the Rams felt the game was closer than the score indicated. “It was pretty even but they got a couple of bounces and we missed a lot of chances and we came out of it with a 9-2 loss,” said Rams’ leading scorer Mike Kavanagh.
The Rams got out to a fast start. They controlled the play in the Patriotes zone for long stretches, creating quality chances through good fore- checking and strong physical play.
“We had our chances early in the first period, but we couldn’t put them away and we never really bounced back,” Kavanagh said.
But, with Kevin Krasnowski in the penalty box for interference, the visitors opened the scoring, with Christian Laroche tallying at the 5:58 mark. The latter parts of the period became chippy with no real flow and UQTR added to their lead before the intermission with a goal from Vincent Blanchette.
“They’re ranked eighth in the country and today they showed why they are ranked the way they are,” said Rams coach Graham Wise.
Early in the third period, when the Rams’ Chris Sutton and Brandon Walker scored six seconds apart, the handful of fans at the game began to hope for a miraculous Rams comeback.
But the Patriotes showed their class and, a minute after Walker’s tally, Thiery Poudrier scored the first of the visitor’s four in the final period. “It’s a building process and we can honestly say we competed,” Wise said. In the Rams’ last game of the season, they faced off against the Concordia Stingers on Saturday night.
The team put up a solid effort, taking the lead twice in the game. But, with just under four minutes left to play in the game, the Stingers’ Jason Beliveau scored his second goal of the night to even the score at four-all. Concordia captain Trevor Hawkins sealed the comeback for the Stingers in overtime when he scored from the point after a Rams defensive breakdown.
Kavanagh doesn’t think that the Rams are that far away from becoming a top team, provided they learn from nights like Friday night. “We just need to work on the little things like tying guys up in front of the net and discipline,” he said.
The Rams have yet to win a game against a team from La Belle Province this season, but will have a chance on Feb. 3 in Montreal when they meet the McGill Redmen.