Photo by Hung Le

Rams hold off Thunderwolves for 5-4 win

By Ryan Bacic

TORONTO - It was victorious night for the Ryerson Rams as they came away with a nail-biter of a 5-4 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Thursday night.

“I think this win meant a lot,” commented Rams forward Devon Paliani (LaSalle, Ont.), adding, “you want to head into the playoffs on a high and get all the little slumps out of the way.”

With key components of their offensive line-up out for the evening, the Rams struggled to produce chances in the Lakehead zone early on.  As evident by the 18-3 shot deficit they faced throughout the first twenty minutes, the Rams were forced to contest with a Thunderwolves squad that was playing beyond what their previous six-game losing skid would suggest.  

“I don’t think we had the start we were looking for,” stated Paliani on the Rams first period performance. “Give credit to them, they flew into this game and were fighting for their playoff spot, I think we were just a little flat.”

Through their ability to overwhelm Ryerson on offense, the Thunderwolves would be rewarded with the first goal of the contest.  Thirteen minutes into the opening frame, Lakehead defenseman Tyler Anton (Thunder Bay, Ont.) would fire home his second goal of the season on a breakaway play to put his team up 1-0 midway through the first period.

Things would turn around for Ryerson, however, right from the beginning of the second period.  Outshooting Lakehead throughout the second twenty minutes of action, the Rams had found a way to contest with the hungry Thunderwolves squad offensively, while containing them defensively.

For executing these fundamentals effectively, the Rams would be rewarded with an onslaught of scoring opportunities in the second frame.  Eight minutes into the period, captain Alex Basso (Toronto, Ont.) would fire in his team's first goal of the game, and his twelfth of the season, to tie-up the scoreboard at 1-1.  Basso would be followed by teammate Paliani who would give the Rams a 2-1 advantage with less than four minutes to play in the period.

With time winding down in the second period, the Rams had yet to conclude scoring as Basso would contribute his second goal of the match, on a short-handed play, to put Ryerson up 3-1 over Lakehead going into the last period of action.

“He is one of the better players I have seen live,” commented Steven Harland on Basso’s performance as of late. “He has so much skill, with such a good shot, he can pretty much score from anywhere on the ice, and he is really stepping it up.”

In an almost déjà vu moment for Ryerson however, the Lakehead Thunderwolves would come storming back in the third period to turn the game into a nail-biter.  

“We needed to keep playing our game and keep playing hard,” stated Harland on the team’s strategy heading into the third, adding, “they [Lakehead] were also willing to playing hard, as evident by their come back.”

However, for a slight moment at the beginning of the period, it would appear as though the Rams would retain full control of the contest.  Just a few minutes into the final frame of action, Rams freshman forward Tre Folkes (Toronto, Ont.) would tap home his first goal of the season to give Ryerson a 4-1 advantage.

From there the third period would be centered firmly around the Thunderwolves, as quick contributions from Scott Gall (Morden, Man.), Sam Schutt (Palmer Rapids, Ont.), and Daniel Del Paggio (Thunder Bay, Ont.) would tie up the game with three minutes left to play in regulation time.

Fortunately for the Rams, forward Steven Harland (Toronto, Ont.) would provide his sixth goal of the season with less than a minute to play to give his team the 5-4 win.

“I got a lucky bounce, and the boys loved it,” stated Harland on his game-winning goal, adding, “everyone wants to be that guy, and thankfully that was me tonight.”

Looking ahead, the Rams will be facing the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday night in Guelph.  

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