By: Robert Foreman
After a nail-biting finish, the Ryerson Rams came away with an overtime win against the Waterloo Warriors, sweeping them to win the first series of the playoffs.
For the first time since 2014, the Rams have advanced to the second playoff round in the OUA West division.
While it’s a cause for celebration, the team still has a long playoff road ahead of them.
“It feels good, for sure. Obviously it’s a good step, but we still got a lot of work to do,” said head coach Graham Wise. “We can enjoy this moment but we gotta get ready and come back… whoever we face in the next round, [we have to] prepare, just like we prepared for Waterloo.”
The Rams are the second team to advance to the next playoff round, along side the Western Mustangs.
But today’s win did not come easily. The Rams’ 4-2 lead in the latter half of the third period was halted when they gave up two goals to the Warriors, forcing them into overtime.
Centre Jamie Lewis said that a situation like that was unacceptable.
“That just can’t happen again. If we’re gonna go far, especially with the great team that we have, we’re gonna have to be able to seal the deal and play right till the end of the game instead of having it drag on like that,” he said.
The team was forced to take a break and recuperate before heading back out for a sudden death match to end the game.
Mitch Gallant, who scored the first goal of the night and the game-winner, was more upset than any when the team went into the change room because the Warrior that scored was the one he was supposed to be covering. But he said that the team was able to use the 15 minute break in between the third and overtime to collect themselves and come out strongly.
“It was obviously a little bit deflating but I thought we rallied, It was good to get that break and refocus,” he said.
Despite Gallant’s own disappointment with certain areas of his performance, his presence on the rink was a serious game changer.
About five minutes into the game, the puck ricocheted off of the sideboards into centre ice where Mitch Theoret took it left of the Warriors’ net and sent it across to Mitch Gallant who put it under the goalies pads for the first goal on the night.
Jamie Lewis scored half way through the second period and was later followed by Keevin Cutting whose shot bounced off of the goalie’s ribs and into the net.
After Lewis scored again at the beginning of the third, the Warriors began to turn up the tempo as the Rams seamed to dial theirs back, inevitably leading to overtime. But with the Rams having recuperated, they managed to pull off a victory. Thanks to goalie Troy Passingham who’s saves were able to keep the team in the game, Gallant managed to finally find the net with just over eight minutes left in the overtime period. The entire Rams bench was cleared instantly as Gallant was swarmed.
“[I] kinda just went blank for a second, then Cutter got in my face and started screaming so I started screaming too,” said Gallant. “I was a little bit frustrated [ with my performance] before. I kinda wish those went in but they weren’t needed I guess – I got that dirty one at the end.”