Photo by Christian Bender

Mistele stuns Varsity Blues with game 1 OT winner

By Cara Gilhula

TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams won 3-2 in overtime fashion for their first game of the playoffs against the Toronto Varsity Blues at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Thursday night.

Matt Mistele first put the Rams on the board and then finished the game with an overtime winner to advance the Rams 3-2. Hayden McCool also earned a goal, with support from linemate, Mathew Santos.

“Anytime you can help your team win, it’s awesome. Luckily tonight it was me, and I’m sure there will be some games where other guys step up and they’re the big players. It’s about everyone showing up and tonight it was my turn, and next game will be someone else for sure,” says Mistele.

The first period was a tough start for the Rams. The energy level wasn’t necessarily the same as it has been. The Rams had little urgency, which is not their typical strategy off the drop.

At times, the Rams held their own, controlling the play when they earned the turnover, and fortunately, the Varsity Blues got off to a slow start as well.

“We don't really want to have those turnovers early on in the game, but as the game went on we got more confident with the puck. We were moving a little quicker and we tried to eliminate those as much as possible to keep the play down in their end,” states Santos.

With less than five minutes in the first, Taylor Dupuis made a diving save. The puck flew off his pad, but he was out of position, and Varsity Blues Kevin Lavoie picked up the rebound and scored the first goal of playoffs.

The first period ended with 13 shots for the Varsity Blues and eight for the Rams.

During the second period, the pace of the game didn’t pick up much. Both teams were taking penalties and frustrations grew as the mistakes increased. Dupuis continued to stay strong and keep the Rams in the game.

“Sometimes more shots let you get in a bit of a groove and I felt comfortable out there. The guys were letting me see the puck well,” said Dupuis.

At 11:35 of the second, Marcus Hinds was stuck on the boards and dropped the puck back to Matt Mistele. Mistele made his way in and went bar down to put the Rams on the board at 1-1, where the second period remained.

“Sometimes you play against yourself, and we make stupid mistakes, which we definitely made a few of those today. But we were able to battle back and I'm proud of the guys,” says Mistele.

“They're a great team (Varsity Blues), and they work super hard, so we have to match their intensity for sure.”

In to the third period at 11:02, Max Lindsay put one past Dupuis to the give the Varsity Blues the lead once more. Assists were given to Nathan Hudgin and David Thompson.

From there, something must have struck a nerve for the Rams, because they did not wait to find the back of the net.

Alex Basso made a shot from the blue line and Cavin Leth was there to tip it towards Mathew Santos. Santos made a great pass from behind to Hayden McCool, who fired it in to tie the game 2-2 at 11:35.

Head coach Johnny Duco said, “To come right back and score, that was a great sign, and I thought that from that point on, we really started to take it to them. For us, it was a learning lesson, that we can’t come up flat.”

The third period remained tied and the game entered a 20 minute sudden death overtime.

“Going into overtime everyone was in a pretty good mood. We knew we weren't going to lose that game and I feel that we dominated,” says Dupuis.

The Rams entered overtime like a new team compared to the rest of the game. They were hustling, taking chances, and creating a momentum that was unbeatable. They controlled the puck off the drop and used the point well to create a number of chances in front of the net. The bounce wasn’t as promising, but it was clear that eventually one had to stick, and it did at 5:39.

Santos gave the puck to Mistele and he quickly picked it up, wrapped around the net, and snuck the puck in to give the Rams the 3-2 win and the first game of the playoffs.  

After being outshot all game, the Rams ended with a final shot count of 38 to the Varsity Blues 35.

The Rams will visit Varsity Arena on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. for game two against the Varsity Blues.

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