by Rob Moysey
If last names mean anything, Billy Stone should be a mason, because he sure knows how to put up a wall.
The third-string goalie for Nipissing made 32 saves – many of them on dangerous cross-crease and high slot chances – to help Nipissing to a 3-2 win, overtaking Ryerson for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
“Their goalie played great,” said Ryerson head coach Graham Wise. “I liked our intensity and I think we played a great game. Nine times out of 10 those pucks go in, but Stone was there every time.”
Stone, a rookie appearing in just his second game of the season, overcame a terrible moment in the second period where he whiffed on a routine slap-shot dump-in from centre ice by Ryerson’s Troy Murray that tied the game 2-2. The puck grazed off the bottom tip of his glove and went in the net.
“Here I am, a third-string goalie all year, and when I finally get my chance the hockey gods give me a break like that,” Stone said with a laugh. Murray also made light of the situation when he did a little one-kneed knuckle-drag in celebration.
“In practice I always score highlight-reel goals,” he joked. “I just thought I’d have a little fun.” The hockey gods cast a blind eye to Rams goaltender Louie George midway through the third period. He came way out of his net to play the puck off the boards but had it take an awkward bounce right to Nipissing’s Sam Hopewell for an easy empty-net goal that would stand up as the winner.
“Do we have to talk about it?” groaned a visibly frustrated George after the game. “You can chalk it up to bad luck I guess.”
Nipissing took a 1-0 lead early in the first period when Andrew Marcoux’s wrister from the right circle slipped by a partially-screened George. Julian Zamparo tied the game on the power play in the final minute of the frame off a clean cross-ice one-timer from Matt Schmermund. Marcoux notched his second goal of the night 18 seconds into the second period when he banged home a loose puck that popped out into the slot during a scramble in front of the net.
Though Ryerson was unable to build upon their 8-3 rout of RMC last week, coach Wise remained optimistic about his team bouncing back in their next game against Queen’s on Saturday, if they can maintain their level of intensity. There are only five games remaining in the regular season. “If you’re getting the chances we did tonight, you’re obviously doing something right,” he said.