Harland’s heroics power Rams past Lions at WOCO

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By Hayden Godfrey

In one of the most thrilling games of the season, the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team narrowly ousted the visiting York Lions 6-5 in front of a packed Mattamy Athletic Centre for the annual Ryerson Rams Winter Homecoming.

After 40 minutes, York led 4-2, despite being outshot 27-20 by Ryerson.

“We knew as coaches that it was gonna be a tough game,” said Rams head coach Johnny Duco. “We knew they’re a really good team and they’d come in and play us hard.”

Shortly into the third, Rams captain Matt Mistele pulled his team within one, only to have the Lions recover their two-goal lead minutes later on a goal from Morgan Messenger.

Minutes after Messenger’s goal, a Lions forward collided violently with Taylor Dupuis, causing him to crumple to the ground. Though Dupuis left the game and was seen with a visibly bloody lip, he returned to the bench stitched up minutes later.

Tonight was the regular season debut of Rams goalie Taylor Dupuis. He’s been sidelined with a groin injury shortly after Ryerson’s homecoming game on Sept. 20. Dupuis was solid early on, stopping seven of the first eight shots he faced.

“He battled for us,” Duco said of his netminder’s performance. “We left him out to dry on a few of those goals, but he gave us a chance to win and we need to be better in front of him.”

Still, the Rams rebounded midway through the third, crawling within one on a Jesse Barwell goal, and eventually tied things up at 5-5 on Matt Nosella’s first goal this year.

With less than two minutes to go in the third, Steven Harland put his team up for good, notching the game-winner and celebrating emphatically with his teammates in the corner.

Backed by an enthusiastic and engaged crowd, the Rams got off to a rapid start thanks to Mathew Santos, who potted his 13th goal of the season, two minutes in to give his team the early edge.

Midway through the period, York responded, tying the score off a floater from Alex Mowbray that somehow found its way through a crowded slot and into the back of the net.

The Rams retook the lead before the end of the frame, this time courtesy of David Miller, who fired a laser beam past York goaltender Cole Ceci.

Late in the second period, Dupuis surrendered one of his rare softer goals, allowing a shot to sneak through his five-hole and across the goal line from Sal Filice. It was as if every fan in attendance collectively held their breath as the puck slowly, but surely, eked its way between Dupuis’ legs and in, knotting things up at 2-2.

By the time the frame expired, the Lions had regained the lead on the power-play on Mowbray’s second of the contest. The Rams proved to be all too much in the final period, scoring two unanswered goals late as they secured the 6-5 victory.

This was the eighth time this season the Rams scored five or more goals in a game. Ryerson handed York their 11th straight loss, as they moved to second in the Ontario University Athletics West standings.

“It was a special night,” Harland said post-game. “We want to win all these games so they keep coming back. It was fun for sure.”

UP NEXT: The Rams quickly turn around to host the Windsor Lancers in the second of three meetings between the two squads this season. Puck drops at 7:15 p.m.

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