TORONTO – A dynamic third period led by a Chris Marchese breakaway winner lifted the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team to their third straight victory with a 5-2 win over the Laurentian Voyageurs Saturday afternoon.
The Rams finished last season with a 7-2 record in the latter game of a back-to-back and proved Saturday that they’re once again lethal in their ability to execute in the second game.
Riding the high of Friday night’s 6-2 victory over the Nipissing Lakers, the Rams stormed out of the gate and threw an absurd 16 shots towards Voyageurs’ starting goaltender, Charlie Millen. The start was to no surprise of Rams’ head coach Johnny Duco, who emphasized the importance of a good start before Saturday afternoon's match.
“Part of our message today was that we wanted to get out to a fast start,” said Duco. “We felt that they were probably using all the clichés that we played last night and to get on us early. We wanted to get in their mind early and put them on their heels a little bit.”
The Voyageurs’ Millen was impressive between the pipes through the game's first 20 minutes and kept his team in the mix of things after the Voyageurs managed just five shots in the first.
Despite the lopsided difference in shots, the Rams and Voyageurs finished the opening frame knotted up at one. Rams’ Fabrizio Ricci opened the game's scoring with his second goal in just his fourth game as a Ram. The Voyageurs, however, needed just 15 seconds to find the equalizer after a defensive mental lapse by the Rams left Nicolas Dionne all alone in front. Dionne deflected home his first of the year through the legs of Rams’ starting goalkeeper, Charlie Graham, and sent things to the second period tied up at one.
A late high sticking minor to Rams’ captain Michael Fine in the first put the Voyageurs on the advantage to start the second. Nick Esposto found the back of the net just 16 seconds into the period and gave the Voyageurs a surprise 2-1 lead.
The Rams rebounded with a quick goal of their own after Luca Doctor blasted home his first of the campaign. Fine sent a backhand pass in front to Doctor, who crept in from the blue line to whack home the one-timer. The quick goal proved to be a testament of the type of leadership and mentality the Rams put forth night in and night out.
“It’s just a different feel around the team. If we’re down, even or we’re in the lead, there’s no panic,” said Duco regarding the team's mentality. “It’s just ‘hey lets go here, have a good period and win the game.’ It’s a willingness to do whatever it takes to find a way to win.”
If the Rams had any difficulty in locating what was needed to win Saturday afternoon, then the third period was where they found it. Marchese scored the first of three third period goals for the Rams after making no mistake on the breakaway. Devlin sent Marchese on the break where he went backhand-forehand for the gorgeous deke and gave the Rams their first lead since midway through the first.
Aaron Armstrong took things from there and added two in the period as the Rams cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Voyageurs.
Goals weren’t hard to come by for the Rams this weekend. They finished with 11 goals combined after scoring six on Friday and five in Saturday’s match. The offensive production was to be expected, and rightfully so after receiving a boost of depth with the return of Jamie Lewis, Josh Sterk, Marcus Hinds, and Marchese. Marchese, specifically, finished the weekend with two goals and two assists for four points over the weekend.
Rams’ goaltender, Graham, wasn’t tested too heavily by the Voyageurs Saturday, but made 19 saves for his sixth win of the season. He was there when the Rams needed him throughout the match, something Duco was extremely pleased with following the victory.
“I think its tough as a goalie when you haven’t played in close to 10 days and you get out there and its 16-2 shots on net,” said Duco. “I thought early on in the game, he was fighting the puck a little bit, but as the game went on he settled in and made some key saves.”
With the York Lions’ 3-2 loss against the Concordia Stingers Saturday, the Rams now own sole possession of first place in the West division with an 8-2-1 record. They return to the MAC Thursday night against the Western Mustangs in a 7:15 p.m. scheduled puck drop.