By Hayden Godfrey
Fresh off a rather disappointing showing Thursday against Brock, the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team got back in the win column on Nov. 30 in unbelievable fashion, narrowly beating the visiting Western Mustangs 6-5 in overtime at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Though it wasn’t pretty, the team ultimately came away with two points and improved to 11-4-2 to close out the semester.
The first half of the opening period was relatively uneventful. Ryerson got on the board midway through the frame when forward Hayden McCool rifled his ninth goal of the season past Mustangs goalie Luke Peressini.
“[McCool] is playing fantastic,” Rams head coach Johnny Duco said. “He’s playing a lot of minutes, he takes a lot of key faceoffs, and he’s a big part of this hockey team.”
Minutes later, Western evened things up when Cordell James slid a snapshot underneath the left pad of Rams netminder Garrett Forrest. The Mustangs then took the lead with seconds remaining in the period thanks to Ethan Szypula, who capitalized on a mad scramble in front of Forrest to pot his ninth of the year.
Hungry out of the gate in the second period, the Rams knotted things up at 2-2 when forward Mathew Santos threaded the needle and beat Peressini. The Mustangs proceeded to take advantage of a sprawling Forrest and regained the lead a minute later, with James reaching the scoresheet once again.
Near the end of the period, Rams forward David Miller evened the score at 3-3 on his team’s 23rd shot of the evening.
Following Miller’s goal, Rams captain Matt Mistele got into a tussle with Western blueliner Matthew Watson. Duco acknowledged the scuffle as a big morale booster for his team.
“In a game like that, you’re looking for your better players to drag everyone into the fight,” he said of the skirmish. “I felt that our urgency just wasn’t there, and so our leaders did a great job of battling.”
Clearly, the team was energized by Mistele’s physical display, as they took the lead seven minutes into the final period when Greg DiTomaso wired a wrister from the blue line, as it somehow found its way through. Right on cue though, the Mustangs answered back, making it 4-4 on a sneaky shot from Franco Sproviero.
With just over three minutes remaining in the third, the Mustangs appeared to deliver the finishing blow, taking the lead for good courtesy of Sproviero, who beat Forrest for the second time.
But always resilient, the Rams managed to send things to overtime on a Mistele goal, with just a minute left in the third period, that sent the sparse crowd into hysteria.
In overtime, a sloppy Mustang slash paved the way for McCool to tap in his second of the game to steal the victory. Mustangs defenceman Stephen Desrocher, who watched from the penalty box as McCool played the hero, tallied a whopping 16 penalty minutes on the night.
“It’s not always going to be pretty and tonight was a great example of that,” McCool said post-game. “Tonight, I think we showed amazing effort, that took us a long way.”
UP NEXT: After a lengthy holiday break and a community skate on Dec. 8, the Rams will face off against the Brock Badgers in St. Catharines on Jan. 2. Puck drops at 7:15 p.m.