By Michael Musalem
At least for the first portion, it seemed as though the Ryerson men’s hockey team (11-7-1) was in for a tightly contested hockey game.
With goaltender Troy Passingham facing ten shots in the first five minutes of action, it was looking like the Brock Badgers (9-9-2), a point behind the Rams in the standings, had come to play on Thursday evening. But on country night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the enthusiastic crowd of supporters witnessed one of the teams’ most potent offensive performances of the season, as the Rams won 8-4.
Ryerson held a 5-1 lead by the end of the first period, as the Badgers surrendered a multitude of quality scoring chances to a Rams’ squad that showed up ready to compete.
“They were right behind us,” said Rams’ forward Kyle Blaney, who recorded three points, including two goals. “Anytime you can create separation and pick up two points against them – it’s just one game closer to the playoffs.”
Blaney, who had missed five games prior to Thursday’s contest, was just one of many offensive contributors on the night for the Rams. With the team scoring eight goals, seven players record two or more points – a welcomed injection of offense for a squad that’s struggled to put the puck in the net as of late, not having scored more than four goals in each of its past four outings.
Having chased Brock’s starting goaltender from the net before the end of the first, it was just a matter of holding on for the Rams. They were able to subdue a variety of skilled Brock forwards throughout the latter two periods of the game, and were more than happy to keep the Badgers at bay for the remaining time.
“They battled,” said Ryerson head coach Graham Wise. “They’re an offensive team themselves and they’ve got some slick forwards out there. As a coach you’re nervous right until the bell goes at the end of the game. I think coming out with a quick start was the key to victory tonight.”
Wise also spoke highly of Blaney’s performance, emphasizing how his return supplies the Rams with some very solid depth.
“I thought he played well. We gave him team MVP,” he said. “It was good to get him back. I think it really solidifies our lines out there too – having him back.”
Rams’ forward Sam Blanchet recorded his first goal ever as a member of the team – a milestone that shows just how significant this explosion of offense was for Ryerson.
“Enjoy the moment,” said Wise. “But we’ve got to get prepared for University of Toronto tomorrow.”
The Rams are set to host its cross-town rivals Friday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m.