TORONTO - It wasn’t the prettiest two points of the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team's season but it was enough to get them off the snide as they exploded for six goals in a 6-4 victory over the U of T Varsity Blues Saturday night.
The second game of the five-game home stand for the Rams went much better than the first one against the York Lions on Thursday. The Rams were handed a lopsided 6-2 loss courtesy of the Lions and harped the importance of being better prepared and focused ahead of Saturday’s bout with the Varsity Blues. Head coach Johnny Duco wasn’t exactly thrilled after the 6-4 win Saturday night, but noticed a few positives in the close victory.
“I thought attitude wise we seemed that we were ready to go tonight. I thought we had a few spurts where we executed and played to our potential,” said Duco following the win. “We’ll take the two points. It sure wasn’t pretty, and we have been leaning on guys for a couple weeks now because we're so short staffed, but we are looking forward to getting some guys back next week and getting this train rolling again.”
The opening period Saturday showcased a back-and-forth pace that saw a number of offensive opportunities from both teams. Mitch Theoret opened the scoring for the Rams with a tremendous individual effort. Theoret used his size to his advantage to protect the puck and then snapped home a hard-nosed shot over the blocker of the Blues’ goaltender, Andrew Hunt, and in for the opening goal.
The Blues countered just moments later however, after a shot from the point deflected off Blues’ forward, Dean Klomp, and in for the equalizer. The first period buzzer sounded with both teams headed to the first intermission deadlocked in a 1-1 tie.
The Rams controlled the majority of the play throughout the game's second frame and stacked up three unanswered in the period. Andreas Tsogkas’ Christmas came early after he received a gift for his first of the year. Alex Basso sent a hard pass towards the net which then deflected off the skate of Tsogkas and in for the go-ahead goal. The lucky bounce appeared to ignite the Rams as Fab Ricci joined the fun with his first in a Rams uniform later in the period. Ricci was finally rewarded for his constant effort in front of the net and whacked home his own rebound for the goal. And then just moments later, Basso snapped home a one timer from the slot for his second of the year and the Rams’ fourth on the night.
In the hole and with only twenty minutes remaining, the Varsity Blues looked unfazed despite a 4-1 score. They made quick work after first year, Connor Graham, kicked off the Blues’ third period scoring with his first OUA goal and point. Graham corralled the puck at the side of the net and sent a seeing-eye shot over the shoulder of the Rams’ Taylor Dupuis and in. The third period marker came just 18 seconds into the frame and looked to forecast what may be on the horizon from the Blues in the third.
Just two minutes later, the Rams responded thanks to Captain Clutch, Michael Fine. Fine squeaked a wrist shot through the legs of Hunt from the slot and regained the Rams’ three-goal lead. The Blues battled back with two more goals in the frame courtesy of Matt Heffernen and Charlie Connell, but a late empty net goal from Fine sealed the deal for the Rams as they went on to beat the Blues 6-4 at the MAC.
Rams’ Dupuis picked up his first win of the 2016-17 season and looked sharp at times throughout his 29 save performance. Although he’s allowed eight goals in just two starts this year, Duco insists that the players in front of him need to be held accountable.
“I thought he battled all game long and the guys in front of him hung him out to dry quite a few times there,” said Duco on the play of his goaltender. “I think the guys in front of him need to do a better job defensively with helping him. He made some big saves when it counted and we got the two points, so we will move on and start getting focused for Nipissing Friday.”
The Rams welcome the Nipissing Lakers to town next weekend with a scheduled 7:15 p.m. puck drop at the MAC. The Rams will then play an afternoon thriller against the Laurentian Voyageurs a day later with a scheduled 2:15 p.m. start time on Saturday.