Rams complete comeback for the ages in playoff opener

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By Mario Russo

Elijah Roberts saved the Rams season Wednesday evening at the Mattamy Athletics Centre (MAC) eliminating the Western Mustangs from playoff contention in a double-overtime 4-3 thriller.

The Rams scored a pair of goals in the last two minutes of regulation to keep their season alive and send it to overtime. 

“If we’re gonna win hockey games it’s gonna take everybody, all 18 guys pulling on that same rope together,” said Rams head coach Johnny Duco following the Rams first playoff win in two years.

The road to the Queen’s Cup started far bumpier than the Rams would have liked, surrendering a pair of goals in the opening two minutes of the game and trailing 3-1 after two periods of hockey. 

Roberts praised the team’s ability to push through the game’s early adversity, saying “no matter what the score is we always have a chance to get back in the game.”

The blue and gold opened the third looking to relish their success in lonesome goalscorer Hayden McCool, who cut the Rams deficit to two heading into crunch time.

The action in the third began to pick up in the latter half of the frame, with the Rams getting on the board.

A tip in front of the Western goal from the stick of Joe Rupoli would instill some life back into the Rams legs to bring them within one with just seven minutes left of play. 

Moments after Rupoli’s rejuvenating redirection, Riley Macrae cleaned up a defensive miscue in front of the Ryerson goal, netting his second of the night and putting the Mustangs back up a pair. 

Continuing to charge, the Rams would go for broke and exchange their goaltender for an extra forward. The move by Duco paid off, earning a powerplay goal just minutes later, courtesy of David Miller’s tenacity in tight. 

With two minutes left to play—the net empty, tank low and the home crowd on their feet—it was time for the Rams to barrel their way towards a game 17 in the season. 

With every second of the essence, Wells would send a blue line blast towards the net in search of finding a teammate in front. The shot would soar past all the blue shirts clogging up the front of the goal and smash the back of the net to send the MAC into hysterics. 

The rookie could not have picked a better time to snap his four-game goalless drought, knotting the game up and forcing an extra period of play to settle the score. 

Both teams traded chances at each end of the ice, with the Rams steamrolling the Mustangs in the shot column. Dylan Myskiw’s composure between the pipes was the only thing keeping the Mustangs’ engine running as the rookie goaltender steered aside every chance the Rams had to seal the deal. 

Following the game, Duco sent some praise the visitors’ way, complimenting the Mustangs ability to compete. 

A fresh sheet of ice greeted the Rams with a second shot at completing the comeback in the game’s second overtime period. Just 27 seconds in, Elijah Roberts would fire a shot on goal from just below the Western hash marks. 

The puck would take a bounce and sneak its way under the arm of the Mustangs goaltender to clinch the victory for the home side, putting an exclamation mark on a wild Wednesday win. 

“I saw it go in and the rest was history,” said Roberts. 

UP NEXT: The Rams look to keep the good times rolling on home ice Saturday afternoon. Their next opponent is yet to be determined. Puck-drop is set for 2 p.m.

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