By: Robert Foreman
Coming off of a 5-3 loss against the Guelph Gryphons on Thursday night, the Ryerson Rams had to lay it all on the line and win Friday nights game, or lose the semi-final series and call an end to their season.
Laying it all on the line is exactly what they did to emerge victorious in a 2-1 overtime win.
The first period of the game demonstrated that the regular season is over and that anyone who still wants to be in pursuit of the championship title, is going to play hard, physical hockey. With open ice hits and explosive cross-checking into the side-boards, both teams were laying into each other, play after play.
“The thing you gotta remember is Guelph’s a defending champion,” said head coach Graham Wise. “They wanna prove that they can do it again, so they’re coming hard.”
With heavy hits and spontaneous scraps to be had throughout the game, the first goal was delivered by Brandon Devlin after team captain Mike Fine set him up with a puck in front of the net, about 10 feet away.
Devlin’s goal was the only goal scored until late in the third period when the Gryphons were able to tie it up.
A strong reason for that was the outstanding goaltending that was displayed during the game from both teams.
While Wise acknowledged that both goalies were incredibly talented, Fine said that the Rams goalie Troy Passingham is a major key for why they are in the playoffs now.
“Troy’s been great all year, he hasn’t really had any bad games,” he said. “He’s a senior guy and I know he wants to finish strong.”
But when the Gryphons turned up their tempo and did manage to finally get a puck past Passingham, they did so with under two minutes left and drove the game into overtime.
While the rams had been caught off-guard in the end of the third period, they came out into the sudden death overtime period with the same vigour that they had originally started the game with. After putting up another twenty shots on goal, the talent of the Gryphons goalie could keep them afloat for so long before eventually they were forced to meet with a loss and preparation for a do-or-die game on Sunday.
Not to mention that the game-winner could not have been any better. After a grueling sudden death period with close calls for both sides, Fine got a hold of the puck. He streaked up the rink, isolated from his team as he carved his way through the Gryphons’ zone – putting the puck through his legs – to shoulder his way into the net and fire the puck past the goalie. As Fine fell immediately after scoring, he was swarmed immediately as he stood up by his teammates.
Fine said that the whole scene happened so fast that he needs to watch the replay himself to see what happened.
“from the blue line in, that’s all I really remember,” he said. “I just put my shoulder down, took it to the net – I don’t even know where the puck went in past the goalie, but we’ll take it.”
The Rams play the Gryphons again on Sunday at 7:30 P.M. in the third and final game of the semi-final series where the winner, advances to the conference finals.