Rams eliminated from playoffs in heartbreaking home thriller

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By Hayden Godfrey

Fresh off a thrilling 6-5 win in Game 2 in Guelph on Feb. 24, the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team were unable to keep their season alive in Game 3 on Feb. 25, falling 4-3 to the Gryphons in a heartbreaking contest at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The loss knocks the Rams out the of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs, ending their 2018-19 season.

“It was a really tight fought series that could’ve gone either way,” Rams head coach Johnny Duco said after the game. “Unfortunately, we ended up on the wrong end.”

Though they were warming up as if it was just another hockey game, Ryerson came out of the gate with a heightened intensity that helped them jump out to an early 1-0 lead.

Mathew Santos, one of the team’s most consistent offensive forces, scored his second of the playoffs, much to the delight of the small but passionate home crowd.

Despite the early deficit, the Gryphons got themselves on the board five minutes into the second frame when Scott Simmonds barely managed to push a loose puck past Rams goalie Taylor Dupuis into the back of the net.

After a Matt Nosella cross-check put the Rams down a man, Simmonds scored once again, this time redirecting a centering pass from Connor Bramwell. Minutes later, the Gryphons added onto their lead when Ryan Valentini wired one over Dupuis’ left shoulder.

In an astonishing sequence of events, the Gryphons scored yet again in the middle stages of the period, this time thanks to Nick Boyer. Guelph’s fourth goal, which came just 5 minutes after their second and 25 seconds after their third, forced Ryerson into a timeout.

Energized by the passionate words of Duco during the timeout, the Rams came right back, slicing the lead to 4-2 when Patrick Fellows scored his second of the postseason.

Right on cue, Matt Mistele, one of the OUA’s most dangerous scorers, brought Ryerson within one on a wiring wrist shot that stunned Guelph goalie Andrew Masters. After 40 minutes, the Gryphons held a one-goal lead.

Despite a relentless effort in the third, the Rams were unable to prevail, suffering a crushing defeat that would result in their elimination from Queen’s Cup contention.

“We were one of the best teams in the country for the whole year,” Duco told The Eye. “I thought we did a really good job overall.”

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