GUELPH, Ont. – It was an exhilarating way to start the season as the Ryerson Rams came away with a 5-4 overtime win in a thriller of a match-up against the Guelph Gryphons on Thursday night.
However, the beginning of this game was by no means an indicator for how it was going to conclude. The moment the puck dropped to signal the beginning of the Rams 2017-18 regular season, the Ryerson line-up was playing in a manner that was unlike a team that is ranked eighth nationally. The Rams offensive line, usually the dominating force on the ice, seemed rather tamed by a Guelph defensive line that provided fortified zone-coverage and extensive man-to-man pressure. Because of this, the Rams were put in an usual spot early on in the game; having to spend extensive stretches of the first period trapped in their own zone.
This lack of familiarity with prolonged defensive coverage allowed the Gryphons to take advantage of a disorganized Rams line-up, and be the first team to place themselves on the scoreboard. In the seventh minute of the first period, Guelph's Scott Simmonds (Uxbridge, Ont.) took advantage of a noticeable lack of Ryerson jerseys surrounding Rams netminder Taylor Dupuis (New Liskeard, Ont.), and rocketed a shot into the top of the net to give the Gryphons a 1-0 lead early in the match.
This unexpected goal seemed to disorganize an already flustered Rams squad, allowing the Gryphons to extend their lead throughout the first period. Shortly following the goal by Simmonds, teammate Manny Gialedakis (Woodbridge, Ont.) would extend the lead to 2-0 after a Gryphons offensive rush into the Ryerson zone. Just four minutes later, Michael Stevens (Turkey Point, Ont.) would push the Gryphons lead to 3-0, in a similar fashion to Gialedakis, heading into the first intermission.
Following the break in the action, it was hoped that the Rams would snap back into formation and pull themselves back into this game. At first, however, it did not appear that this was going to be the case when, ten minutes into the second period, Guelph’s Simmonds would record his second goal of the game and extend the Gryphons lead to 4-0. As the period dragged on, it appeared as though all hope was lost for a Rams comeback.
However, this would not be the case, as all it took was a spark to re-ignite the intensity that epitomizes this Rams line-up. This spark would be provided by forward Marcus Hinds (Toronto, Ont.), whose close-range goal in the sixteenth minute of the second period put the Rams on the board, and seemed to provide the energy needed to get the Rams back in the game. Following the goal by Hinds, teammate Aaron Armstrong (Teeswater, Ont.) would tuck in another short-range goal, this time while short-handed, with only seven seconds left in the second period to cut the Gryphons lead in half heading into the second intermission.
The Rams appeared to be back in stride and came back into the third period determined to claim a win in their first game of the season. The usually expected tenacity of the Rams offensive line-up was on full display in the third period, as they consistently overwhelmed the Gryphons defense, outshooting the home team 20-9 in the third period alone. This consistent bout of offensive pressure seemed to work to the Rams advantage, as Devon Paliani (LaSalle, Ont.) provided Ryerson with their third goal of the match seven minutes into the period to cut the Gryphons lead to 4-3. The game-tying goal would eventually come for the Rams, with only thirty seconds remaining in the third period, by John Carpino (Maple, Ont.), pushing the two teams into an extra period.
Heading into overtime the Rams seemed determined to ensure that their efforts to comeback into this match would not go to waste. With an aggressive offensive pursuit, and a selection of speedy players to counterbalance the Gryphons defensive squadron in the three-on-three overtime match-up, the Rams were playing their strongest hand to ensure a quick victory in the extra period. This strategy would pay off, as Armstrong would capitalize upon a 2-on-1 offensive opportunity, recording his second goal of the game, and giving the Rams a 5-4 win in Guelph.
The Rams will take to the ice once more on Sunday, October 15 at 2:00 pm, when they play their first home game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre against the Windsor Lancers.