By Hayden Godfrey
On a misty fall evening, the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team, fresh off an exhilarating victory against the division rival Guelph Gryphons, were hoping to put a damper on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ home opener.
They did just that on Friday night, decimating the Varsity Blues by a score of 6-2.
Playing an aggressive and physical first period, the Rams dominated the majority of the first 20 minutes, outshooting the Varsity Blues 12-6. First-year forward Hayden McCool, in particular, was at the forefront of a shoving match with U of T veteran Max Lindsay.
“When the going gets a little bit rough, he can settle things down with real quickly with his size and stature,” Rams head coach Johnny Duco said of McCool after the game. “He’s a guy that I think is going to continue to get better.”
However, a rapid odd-man rush proved costly midway through the first, as Toronto forward Nathan Hudgin took a swift pass on the tape and put it in the back of the net to give his team a surprising early lead. Though agile and well-positioned, Rams goalie Garrett Forest couldn’t slide across his crease in time to make the stop.
Despite the underwhelming outcome of the well-played first period, the Rams came roaring out of the gate in the second by getting on the board 20 seconds in, thanks to the nifty stick work of Devon Paliani. Less than three minutes later, Matt Mistele, playing as a part of the lethal Rams power-play unit, roofed a beautiful wrist shot to give his squad the lead.
The Rams weren’t done though, adding two more goals before the halfway point in the period. Steven Harland provided the third goal, while Paliani again made the scoresheet by potting his second of the night. Jared Walsh and Vince Figliomeni notched assists in a second period that saw the Rams soar ahead 4-1 after 40 minutes of play.
“[Paliani] has played really well and just not been rewarded for it.” Duco said of Paliani. “He reaped the benefits of that tonight and he played a great game.”
Ryerson, light and relaxed on the bench, got a little insurance from Steven Harland, who scored his second goal of the evening 57 seconds into the final period to cushion the lead. Though the Varsity Blues gained some momentum near the end of the contest, the late goal from fourth-year blueliner Josh Hanson wasn’t nearly enough to re-energize an outplayed Toronto squad.
To add insult to injury, Devon Paliani pinballed an errant shot off Varsity Blues goalie Alex Bishop to earn a hat-trick. Finishing off the night with a tidy third period, the Rams cruised to their third straight win, stunning an eager home crowd at Varsity Arena.
“We’re really excited,” the hopeful coach noted. “For us, we’re thinking big picture and we want to continue to get better everyday.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will take on UOIT on Friday Oct. 19 at the Campus Ice Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.