By Mario Russo
The Rams mens hockey team’s well of late-game heroics ran dry as the Brock Badgers took the Ontario University West division final by a score of 5-2 Wednesday evening at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
Rookie forward Jacob Roach would lead the way for the visitors, his two-goal performance punching the Badgers’ ticket to the Queen’s Cup final.
“They played hard. They played really well. They were the deserving team here tonight,” said Rams head coach Johnny Duco following the loss.
Round three between the Rams and visiting Brock Badgers would pick up throughout the second half of the game which saw breathless back-and-forth action between the two teams.
After spending the majority of the contest going blow for blow with one another, the Brock Badgers would put themselves in the most opportune position to break the 2-2 deadlock.
Late in the middle stanza, freshman Zachary Taylor would park himself right in front of Rams goaltender Garrett Forrest in an attempt to exploit the Rams’ Achilles heel all year long—protecting the front of the net.
Just as they did earlier in the contest, the Badgers came away with a fresh tally on the scoreboard courtesy of a fortunate bounce off the pants of Taylor in tight to the Rams goal.
Duco credited much of the Badgers offensive success to the multiple fortuitous bounces the visiting side had throughout the game.
The clock would dwindle down on the visitors’ third lead of the contest to send them into a pivotal period of hockey with a 3-2 lead.
Ryerson has been the league’s biggest success story so far this postseason when it comes to chipping away at third period deficits, storming back in the final period of their last two games. Duco firmly believed in the team’s ability to play catch up.
The blue and gold would be forced to put their climatic composure to the test once more, especially following a Roach goal that saw the Badgers double their lead to greet the Rams in the third.
The rookie’s second of the evening would come from an awkward angle in the offensive zone and would squeak through the five-hole of Forrest.
The Rams goaltender has been reliable throughout the Rams postseason run, making countless crucial saves whenever the team’s season has been on the line. But on Wednesday, Forrest would not come up as such, surrendering the nail in the coffin to put the Rams chances of playing in the Queen’s Cup final to bed.
The Rams worked to rally back late in the period, but unlike the last two games, would run out of clutch performances from their offence.
Centerman Justin Brack would silence the rowdy home crowd by tucking in the empty netter to seal the deal for the Badgers.
“That urgency just didn’t seem to be there for us … It just seemed like we were a little stuck in the mud” said Duco.
Despite the loss, the Rams remain alive in the hunt for the nation’s top prize which the three best teams in the province will be eligible to compete for at nationals next week.
With one last ticket to nationals up for grabs, the Rams’ last shot at keeping their season alive will come this Saturday when they host McGill.
“Great opportunity in front of us to get to the national tournament. That’s where our focus is,” said Duco.
UP NEXT: The Rams host McGill on Saturday with one last ticket to nationals up for grabs. Puck-drop is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.