By Mario Russo
The Rams men’s hockey team shocked the U Sports world Friday afternoon at Andrew H. McCain arena, pulling off an improbable upset over the second seeded University of New Brunswick (UNB) Reds in 2-1 fashion at the U Cup hockey tournament.
Heading into their nationals debut against the heavily favored UNB Reds, the Rams looked to embrace their underdog opportunity and knock off one of Canada’s best teams.
Ryerson’s mission to top off the tournament’s second seed kicked off with a fortunate bounce in favor of the Toronto side. A neutral zone shot from the stick of David Miller would ricochet off the Reds end boards and fall right onto the tape of forward Kevin Gursoy.
The Rams rookie wasted no time firing a shot past the glove of goaltender Rylan Parenteau to pick up both the team’s postseason lead in goals and more importantly, one of the Rams biggest tallies of the season just seventeen seconds in.
The blue and gold held on to their one-goal lead throughout the opening frame despite numerous offensive threats from a talented Reds side. Rams goaltender Garrett Forrest continued to find success between the pipes for the Rams, posting a first period performance similar to the one that clinched his side a bronze medal less than a week ago.
Optioning to sit back and let the Reds open up, the Rams played a heavy forecheck against their heavily favored opposition and would reap the benefits of it by the end of the frame; earning a significant power play against one of the nations best shorthanded units.
The Rams inked their name on the scoresheet once more and on their lonesome powerplay nonetheless following a Domenico Commisso wrister from just below the hash marks.
The second-period tally witnessed the Rams dominate the early stages of the frame yet again and in doing so, put them in the driver’s seat with a crucial two-goal lead.
But just as they did in the game’s opening frame, UNB would continue to hold the vast majority of offensive chances following the Rams goal. Despite their advantage, UNB came out with nothing to show for themselves on the scoreboard following a fierce forty minutes of play.
With chasing the game being a rare occurrence for the highly decorated UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall, frustration and desperation slowly began to fall on the faces of his group in dire need of goal.
The Reds offensive efforts would meet its highly anticipated reward with UNB beating the Rams to the scoreboard midway through the third.
Captain Samuel Dove-McFalls’ deflection past the glove of Forrest would cut the Reds deficit in half and put the Rams on their heels the rest of the way.
Little to no offensive pressure would come from the Ryerson group hanging on to their one-goal lead by only a thread. The Rams last line of defense would shine in the final minutes of the frame and survive the Reds late raid as against all the odds, all the animosity, the Rams went from being afterthoughts to the only thoughts in the hunt for the David Johnston University Cup.
Garrett Forrest would make 36 saves in the Rams unthinkable win, earning the player of the game honors in knocking off the reigning national champions.
UP NEXT: The Rams await their opponent in the final four of the U Sports men’s hockey championship.