By Ilyas Hussein
The Rams men’s hockey team extended its winning streak to two games with a 3-1 victory against their city rivals, the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues Nov. 25 on Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The game began with both teams getting their own respective chances. Both goalies, Alex Bishop for the Varsity Blues and Garrett Forrest for the Rams, had to make key saves early in the frame.
One came when Varsity Blues forward David Thomson toe-dragged the puck around the Rams defence and went for an in-between the legs shot that was put aside by Forrest.
With around five minutes remaining in the period, Ryerson had two clear scoring opportunities they were unable to convert on. Forward Kyle Bollers was sprung on a breakaway, but shot the puck just wide. Moments after, forward Domenico Commisso was robbed on the doorstep by a pad save from Bishop.
After what was an overall low-event period, the score remained deadlocked heading into the second stanza.
The frame began with an early powerplay for the Rams, as Thomson took a hooking penalty less than two minutes in. They had some good looks on the man advantage, especially forward Elijah Roberts who had a clean shot from the hash marks turned away, but were once again unable to capitalize.
The Rams continued to show a strong effort after the powerplay, as the momentum shifted to their side. It seemed as if the intensity level was raised and the puck was attached to their sticks on a string for the first half of the second period.
“I liked what we were doing. We put a lot of pucks to the net, had a lot of zone time. I thought we did a good job managing the pucks as well,” said Rams head coach Johnny Duco.
Bishop had to make numerous solid stops to keep the score tied. Without his play, the score would have been lopsided in the Rams’ favour.
“You tip your hat to him. He was really sharp and wasn’t giving up many rebounds,” said Duco of the opposing netminder.
However, the Varsity Blues kicked their play up a notch and responded well to the Rams determined start to the frame. After a couple of scoring opportunities of their own, U of T was finally able to break the deadlock. Forward Danny Katic poked one past Forrest following a net-front scramble to put the Varsity Blues up 1-0 with 5:41 left in the period.
The score remained 1-0 in favour of the Varsity Blues, even with the Rams putting up 31 shots on goal heading into the third.
Less than thirty seconds into the period, the Rams had a glorious chance as the puck was passed to a streaking Commisso, who took a shot from the slot and rang it off the post.
The momentum once again shifted in the Rams favour as they finally put one on their board on their 40th shot of the night with 12:41 remaining in regulation. Defenceman Greg DiTomaso potted his second of the season off a shot from the point past a screened Bishop to tie up the game at 1-1.
The Varsity Blues ramped up their play a bit in response, however, Forrest was able to make key saves to keep the game tied.
“I know it wasn’t a lot of shots, but he kept us in the game tonight,” said Bollers about the Rams netminder.
With less than three minutes to go in the game and after what seemed to be a standard zone entry, Roberts was able to find Bollers all alone in front of the net and dish a pass to him for the go-ahead goal. The chemistry between the two was put on display once again.
“[Roberts’] assist today was unbelievable,” said Bollers. “The work ethic on that guy, holy. I got to give the credit to him,” said Bollers.
The Varsity Blues pulled Bishop for the man-advantage, but couldn’t get anything going. Rams forward Jacob Kamps scored a gritty empty-netter, colliding with the net after he scored to ensure the victory.
The Rams head down to St. Catherines, Ont., on Saturday for a game against the Brock Badgers, who currently sit atop the division.
“We know that’s going to be a tough game,” said Duco. “They’ve been sitting at home all week, waiting all week, so we know we’re going to have to bring our best.”
UP NEXT: The Rams head to St. Catherines, Ont., on Nov. 27 for their last game before winter break. Puck-drop is set for 5:15 p.m.