By Jacob Stoller
Ryerson men’s hockey rookie Cavin Leth achieved a personal milestone Sunday night, scoring four goals in a single game—including three in the first period alone against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.
“That probably was one of my first hat tricks (ever),” said Leth, who has 257 games of Western Hockey League (WHL) experience under his belt. Leth is the first rookie in Ryerson men’s hockey history to record four goals in a game, and now holds the record for most goals by a Rams rookie in a single contest.
Behind Leth’s career game, which wouldn’t have been possible without his linemates Matt Mistele and Marcus Hinds, who picked up assists on two of Leth’s three first period markers, the Rams defeated the Thunderwolves 5-2 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
With the win, Ryerson improved to 7-3 on the season, planting the team in third place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) west division.
“Everyone was clicking from the first face-off,” said Leth. “We had a really good starting shift and we really kinda pushed the tempo in the first period.”
The trio enforced a solid forecheck throughout the first period, pinning the Thunderwolves in their own zone and spending very little time in Ryerson’s end. The chemistry between the three is apparent, as the linemates cycle the puck as if they’ve played on a line for several years, as opposed to only a handful of games.
“We’re just kind of feeding off each other,” said Leth. “Whether it’s (Mistele) putting it in, or Hinds putting it in, we’re always trying to find each other.”
Entering the second period, the Rams had a 3-1 lead and seemingly had complete control of the game. That is, until they didn’t.
At the 12:03 mark of the second period, Lakehead forward Cooper Leitch brought the Thunderwolves within one, and just like that, it was a one-goal hockey game.
“Obviously in the second period there we took our foot off the gas a little bit,” said Rams head coach Johnny Duco. “We started making some mistakes that were uncharacteristic of us, and we addressed some of that going into the third period, and I thought the guys responded and came out with a real good [second half to the game].”
Whatever Duco’s message was during intermission—it worked.
The Rams’ key players continued to come up in big moments, as Mistele scored to put the Rams up 4-2. “In the third period we kinda locked it down and pushed the tempo and set the pace the way we wanted to play,” said Leth.
Once Mistele regained the Rams two-goal cushion, the team improved in all areas, reducing mistakes and limiting time in their own zone. And to cap things off, Leth scored an empty net goal at the 17:41 mark of the third, marking his ninth point in his last four contests.
“(Leth) was getting chances early on and we were telling him, ‘Stay positive if you’re getting chances, the goals are going to come,’ and now he’s starting to see the benefits of that,” said Duco.
While an outing like tonight has been a long time coming for Leth, a three-point game from Mistele is no shocker.
“Game-in, game-out, he’s been one of our best players,” said Duco. “He’s becoming one of the most elite players in the league, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Hinds also chipped in with three assists of his own, and now has eight on the season so far.
In their last two games, Ryerson’s scored 10 goals and only allowed four. It’s an offensive pace that will be hard to maintain, but scoring hasn’t been a problem for the Rams this season. Through 10 games, Duco’s squad is tied with Carleton for the OUA lead in goals with 39.
As for Leth, his seven goals on the year rank him fifth in the league in goals scored.
Not bad for a rookie.
Up Next: The Rams take on the Waterloo Warriors on Nov. 15 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Ryerson beat Waterloo 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 3, and the Warriors are looking to return the favour.