TORONTO – The line of John Carpino, Aaron Armstrong and Erik DeLaurentis combined for three goals on the night as the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team improved to 4-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Thursday night.
The newly found chemistry between Carpino and Armstrong has worked wonders for the Rams this season. The dynamic duo combined for four goals in their 8-6 victory over the Brock Badgers last Wednesday, with three of them coming off the stick of Armstrong.
Turn the page to Thursday and it was all Carpino, who popped in the opening goal and the game winner to lead the Rams to their fourth straight victory.
“It’s been fun. I mean, anytime you get a chance to play with a guy of his calibre (is great) and he’s just so much fun to play with because of his creativity,” said Armstrong when talking about his success playing with Carpino. “He gets the puck and you just try to get open for him. And when he gives it to you, you try find some open ice to give it back to him.”Video
The two goals Thursday night boosted Carpino to three on the year, while Armstrong’s three point performance now puts him atop the team's scoring list with four goals and three assists for seven points in just four games.
“There’s just so much skill and speed between the two of them. They’re just a perfect fit for one another,” said interim head coach Johnny Duco regarding Carpino and Armstrong. “You watch them and they’re like a left and a right shot version of each other. They’re flying up and down the ice, stickhandling, making plays with speed and it really is fun to watch.”
As described, Carpino opened the scoring after a give and go play between DeLaurentis and Armstrong sent him on a breakaway, where his swiping backhand struck the twine for the game's first goal.
A back and forth first period looked to forecast a thrilling second frame and it didn’t disappoint.
Kelin Ainsworth snuck past the Rams’ defenders while on the penalty kill and sharked in all alone from the redline in. With all kinds of time, Ainsworth picked his poison and went forehand-backhand on the Rams’ starting goaltender Charlie Graham to pot his third goal in three games this season.
The short-handed marker ignited what was a rather stale Thunderwolves squad to that point. Just over six minutes later, the Thunderwolves found themselves on the power play thanks to an Austin Kosack high sticking double minor. Grant Valiquette parked himself in front and deflected home a Tyler Anton point shot for the lead, and just like that Thunderwolves snuck ahead 2-1.
The Rams battled back late in the period however, when Armstrong decided to take on three Thunderwolves’ defenders on his own. Armstrong toyed with the puck before he released a snap-shot through the body of Thunderwolves’ goalkeeper Devin Green and in for the equalizer.
The Rams then carried the gained momentum from the second to the third and took over the play for the final twenty minutes.
Just 2:25 into the third, Armstrong fed Carpino a perfectly placed saucer pass from the corner in front, where Carpino made no mistake on the one timer to restore the Rams one goal lead.
Rams’ captain Michael Fine then followed in Carpino’s footsteps and one timed a well-placed pass from Marchese in the slot for his third goal of the season.
Marcus Hinds then rounded out the night's scoring with his second of the year as the Ryerson Rams scored three unanswered third period goals to cruise to a 5-2 victory over the Thunderwolves.
The Rams have faced adversity in the eyes a number of times this season. They’ve scored a game winning goal in the third period for three straight games, something coach Duco believes stems from the character of his group.
“The resilience from the players, whether we’re up, we’re down, we’re tied, they just continue to play and continue to work on executing our system,” said Duco on another comeback win. “And, there is a true belief in the room, whether we’re up or down, that they’re going to find a way to comeback and win the game. I think that’s been the biggest thing that’s been different from other years. We’d get down, we’d get frustrated and we’d stop executing and playing to our strengths. Where now, we’ve just continued to keep the pedal to the metal.”
There is just a different feel to this team than in seasons past and if you want proof, just listen to the captain.
“We’re all buying in. We’ve got a highly skilled team, I think the most skill I’ve ever played with here in my five years,” said Fine. “The coaching staff is doing a good job. As long as we keep the team mentality and we’re not individuals, I think we can make a long playoff run because, you know, the streak is nice and the rank is nice but, at the end of the day, we want to go for a long playoff run. So, that’s the goal.”
If you asked Fine before the game Thursday what he was most focused on, he would most likely tell you it was “on a victory.” And of course it was, but Fine headed into Thursday with 99 career points, and his two-point night against the Thunderwolves now makes him a 100-point man.
“It’s tough to describe. I don’t really think about it too much to be honest with you. I just try to go out there and play and be consistent and hold myself accountable,” said Fine when describing what it means to have hit 100 career points. “You know, I get a lot of ice time, a lot of opportunity. But, with that being said, it’s obviously a good feeling. It’s nice. The boys are in there giving me hugs, hi-fives, all that. So, it’s great and I do it for the guys and it’s a great feeling.”
The Rams are truly in uncharted territory to start this season. They became the first Rams men’s hockey team to start the season 3-0 and have now become the first to improve to an unscathed 4-0.
They will look to make it a perfect and well-rounded five this weekend when they take on the York Lions at Canlan Ice Sports this Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start and can be streamed live to OUA.tv.