By Devin Jones
The Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team won a close game against the defending Queens Cup champions Guelph Gryphons 2-1 Thursday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
Physical from the very start, it was forward Aaron Armstrong who gave the Rams the go ahead goal in the third period, while goalie Troy Passingham put on a clinic stopping 34 of 35 shots.
“Who’s in net is decided on a game by game basis, but “Passer” [Passingham] played fantastic tonight for us,” said head coach Graham Wise.
The first period was a defensive and goaltending battle. A penalty shot awarded to Rams forward Sam Blanchett led to Ryerson first good chance of the game. Despite many strong chances for Guelph throughout the period Passingham kept the game locked at zero, and by the end of the first period shots on net favoured the Gryphons 16-9.
Throughout the second period the Rams looked sluggish, drained of any momentum they gained in the first. The biggest chance for Ryerson in the period came off a Daniel Clairemont breakaway rush that was saved by Guelph goaltender Andrew D’Agostini. The first goal of the night came off a Passingham rebound and put home off the stick of forward Dylan Gilbert.
“I think we’ve really learned that it’s a 60 minute game out there, we got two wins on the board but look at the goal differential, plus two, so it’s hard hockey every game,” Wise said. “Consistency is so close across the league it doesn’t matter who you’re playing these days, every night you’re in for a battle.”
The third period saw the Rams return to first period, high-energy form. With veteran forward Mitch Gallant creating chances and the line of Armstrong, Vince Figliomeni and Joel Wigle finding their rhythm on the ice, it was just a matter of time until one of the various Rams chances found the back of the net. Four minutes into the period it was Wigle, off a feed from Armstrong, that slipped passed D’Agostini and tied the game at one.
With the game tied and time winding down in the period, both teams were visibly frustrated over missed chances; various scrums breaking out in front of both nets. It would be Armstrong — playing in his first season with the Rams — that would break the tie with five minutes left in the game. Rushing down the left wing on a two-on-one with Wigle, Armstrong tried a pass across the crease that went off D’Agostini’s foot and in, to give the Rams the go ahead goal and their second win of the season.
“I found it pretty comical and they never ask how your first one went in, so that’s what I was thinking honestly when it went in,” Armstrong said. “They [the team] have been so encouraging to me, they know I’ve been hanging around the net getting a lot of chances but none have gone in, so it was a pretty lucky goal but I needed that one to get me going.”
You can catch the Rams next on Friday Oct. 30, against the York Lions at the MAC, with the game starting at 7:30 p.m.