By Hayden Godfrey
Though it wasn’t exactly pretty, the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team managed to sneak past the Toronto Varsity Blues by a score of 4-3 to advance to the second round of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Queen’s Cup playoffs on Feb. 16.
Thanks chiefly to a stellar performance from goalie Taylor Dupuis and some timely goals from the team’s stacked crop of forwards, the Rams will now face the Guelph Gryphons in a series likely beginning Feb. 20. The dates of the games have not yet been confirmed by the OUA.
“At times we seemed a little flat,” observed Rams head coach Johnny Duco. “Kudos to U of T, they’re one hell of a team and they played a really, really great game.”
Up 1-0 in the series, the Rams, looking to invade Toronto’s home ice at Varsity Arena, came out of the gate hungry, but were unable to strike first.
Toronto’s captain Aidan Wallace, streaking through the neutral zone with speed, wired a high wrist shot just over the left shoulder of Rams goalie Taylor Dupuis six minutes in.
Ryerson bounced back skillfully near the end of the first period and tied things up when Marcus Hinds tipped a Mark Shoemaker point shot past Alex Bishop.
The tie wouldn’t last for long, as the Blues would once again take the lead nearly two minutes into the second on a David Thomson rifle that beat Dupuis glove side.
Clearly energized by a much needed second intermission, the Rams once again evened it up thanks to a Matt Mistele snap shot that snuck through Bishop just over a minute into the third.
Later in the frame, the Rams magnificently claimed their first lead of the contest when leading scorer Mathew Santos found the back of the net on a screaming shot from the point.
Though the Blues would get one back soon after, Ryerson’s Hayden McCool launched a loose puck down the ice into an empty net to secure a nerve racking victory.
“We know that whoever we go up against, whether it be Guelph or whoever, will have a really good team,” a relieved Dupuis told The Eye after the game. “But we have a better one.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will take on the rival Guelph Gryphons in the second round of the Queen’s Cup playoffs.