By Mario Russo
The York Lions scored a pair of goals in the third period Saturday evening at the Mattamy Athletics Centre (MAC) to send the Rams into the postseason on a sour note with 3-2 loss.
The Rams fired 49 shots towards the Lions goal, with just two goals to show for it.
Rams head coach Johnny Duco saw the disparity between his team’s chances and tallys as “a little bit of the hockey gods leveling things out.”
The blue and gold jumped on the scoreboard early in their final matchup of the regular season with Cavin Leth lighting the lamp for his first goal of the campaign.
Leth’s laser from below the hash marks would soar under the bar of goaltender Cole Ceci to give the Rams the early lead, a fitting response from the senior playing in his final regular season game at the MAC.
Very little love was lost between these two West division rivals, with the physicality ramping up as the period chugged along. When they weren’t in the middle of scrums, the Rams found themselves pestering the York goal with shots, finishing up the first frame with 21 pristine looks.
The lack of discipline between the two sides would give the Lions their second powerplay late in the opening period. A shot from the blue line ricocheted off the pants of York forward Brock McLeod to even up the score before the end of the frame.
Duco acknowledged the group’s poor play on special teams as a “costly” area in tonight’s game.
First-year forward Cole Resnick would put the Rams back on top early in the second period however, beating Ceci for his first goal of the program.
The visitors met the Rams go-ahead goal with a ferocious flurry of offensive chances, hemming the blue and gold in their own zone for minutes at a time. York’s forwards would continue to bombard the net with deflections in search of an equalizer but would turn out unsuccessful in turning their tips to a tally.
A quick succession of saves from goaltender Garrett Forrest would keep the visitors from snatching the tying goal late in the period as the Rams escaped the second set of twenty leading the subway series 2-1.
The Rams bench boss was content with his goaltenders ability to find pucks through the numerous bodies in front, confident that the veteran “got his game back.”
Both sides failed to make changes in their game to open up the final frame of the regular season, with the Rams continuing to pounce on the counter-attack and the trailing Lions continuing to clog up the front of the goal.
Despite its flaws in the second, the Lions would make good on their offensive strategy in tight to the Rams goal early in the third.
Just over five minutes into the frame, a tip in front of the net from York’s Owen Gihula snuck under the blocker of Forrest to bring the game back to level.
The visitors would double down on their offense later in the frame, finding the back once more to take their first lead of the game.
A give-and-go for York saw Lucas Breault hammer a one-timer just below the crossbar, elating the emotions on the York bench.
The Lion’s would hold on to their late dagger through the final minutes of the contest to hand the Rams their fourth loss of the season.
“They emptied the tank and gave everything they had. They found a way to win” said Duco following the 3-2 loss.
UP NEXT: The Rams await their first round opponent in this year’s fight for the Queen’s Cup. Puck-drop for the Rams first playoff matchup is set for Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at the MAC.