With two games remaining in the regular season, the Rams (12-11-3) are currently in the same spot they were in one year ago. However, that may be the only similarity between this year's version of the Rams and last year's. The men already have four more wins and nine more points than they did all of last season with still a couple games to go.
But in a highly competitive East division, where nine out of ten teams are over .500, the Rams are one point out of the playoffs. Both Concordia (13-11-2) and Queen's (13-11-2) are sitting with 28 points, while Ryerson is at 27.
The Rams' chances were very much in doubt heading into the third period against the Toronto Varsity Blues (14-9-3) on Sunday afternoon, but an offensive surge by the men in the third period that included five goals gave them a big 6-1 win and a much-needed two points to stay in the race. Jason McDonough (Toronto) tallied the tying goal in the second, and the game-winner to start the scoring explosion in the third, while adding a pair of assists to earn Boston Pizza Male Athlete of the Week honours.
Greg Payne (Thornhill, Ont.), who also tallied two goals against Toronto on Sunday, leads the Rams with a total of 12 markers on the year while captain Andrew Buck (Newmarket, Ont.) has a team-high 21 points.
Ryerson will host Queen's on Thursday in a critical contest that is also the men's final home game of the season. After that, both the Rams and Gaels will play the third-place Nipissing Lakers (15-7-4). Ryerson will travel to Nipissing on Friday in a back-to-back situation, while the Gaels have the luxury of hosting the Lakers on Sunday.
Concordia may have the toughest final week to ensure a playoff appearance, as they take on the division-leading McGill Redmen (20-4-2) on Wednesday, and hit the road for a game in Carleton (13-10-3), where the Ravens will also be looking for home-ice advantage in the first round.
In all, there are just four points separating the fourth-place Blues from Ryerson in ninth, and there is a good chance many teams will be shifting positions before the season closes out on Sunday.
Ryerson and Queen's have split the season series thus far. The Rams tallied a 2-0 shutout win over the Gaels in Kingston, Ont. on October 28, but Queen's rebounded for a 2-1 triumph in Toronto on January 27.
The Rams have had less success against the Lakers of late. After earning a 4-3 shootout win at home on October 22, the men have taken a pounding from Nipissing in their last two contests, getting blanked 7-0 at George Bell Arena January 26 and going down 9-3 after giving up five third-period markers in North Bay last Friday.
The Rams and Gaels will do battle at George Bell Arena on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The game can be watched online at the Live Video page.
All gate proceeds made at Thursday's game as well as the women's hockey game against Queen's on Saturday will go towards paying the house league fees of an underprivileged youth within the GTA area whose family could not afford it on their own. In partnering with Moss Park Hockey League (MPHL), the Rams hockey programs are working on a proposal to help further the skills of youth within the Ryerson community and giving some the opportunity to continue their hockey skills once they graduate from the program at 16 years of age.
Ryerson will close out the regular season at Nipissing on Friday night. Puck-drop is set for 7:00 p.m.