By Ben Okazawa
The Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team looked to sweep their regular season series with the York Lions and did just that, taking a fought-for 5-3 victory at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Feb. 5.
With the score tied 2-2 in the second period, Rams second-year standout, Hayden McCool, scored a power-play goal to give his team the lead with 9:37 left in the period.
Gregory DiTomaso and Rams captain Matt Mistele each recorded their second assist of the game to help McCool record his 12th goal of the season.
Looking to build on his team’s lead, Rams forward Mathew Santos got a bit too close to York’s first-year goalie Cole Ceci for the Lions’ liking and a scuffle broke out behind the York net.
The ensuing penalties—cross-checking on York defender Xavier Pouliot and roughing after the whistle on Santos and another York defender in Sal Filice—led to a Ryerson power-play.
Ryerson capitalized on the advantage. Just over a minute into the power-play, Mistele set up David Miller at the net to record his third assist of the game in the second period.
“Just sticking together as a team…stay as one,” said Santos on the importance of the fight to team morale. “We hope to take that into playoffs.”
For the entirety of the final period, the Rams played it smart and looked to protect their lead. York, meanwhile, was desperately trying to take the game back.
Almost halfway through the third, Lions head coach Russ Herrington pulled Ceci out of net to give his team an offensive boost. Ceci would come back in soon after but was pulled once again.
This time around, the Lions made good use of their man-advantage, overwhelming Rams goalie Garrett Forrest with a Morgan Messenger goal 13:29 into the period.
“They just didn’t have anything left to lose…that’s pretty scary seeing a six-on-four with ten minutes left,” said Forrest.
That goal tightened the gap, leaving Ryerson with just a one-goal lead heading into the final minutes of the game.
Ceci would be pulled once again late in the game, this time for good. Despite the tactical strategy, the Rams were able to fend off the fiery York attack and take a commanding 5-3 lead off an empty-netter goal from Devon Paliani with 1:02 left in the game.
Ryerson defeated York earlier this season, back on Oct. 18 and extended their win streak over the program to five games.
With today’s win, Ryerson has just one game left in the regular season before the playoffs.
Heading into the post-season, Rams head coach Johnny Duco is looking for his team to lock in defensively rather than trading scoring chances.
“If you get into those types of shootout, run-and-gun games you kind of lose control of the game. We want to be sound defensively and play defence-first hockey,” said Duco.
Sitting second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West, the Rams will look to close out the season with a win heading into playoffs.
UP NEXT: Ryerson plays their final game of the regular season at Windsor’s Capri Ice Complex. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.