Sterk pots OT winner, Rams win battle of OUAs best
MONTREAL, Que. - A battle between two of the OUA’s best did not disappoint Friday night with the No. 4 Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team edging the No. 6 McGill Redmen 1-0 in overtime at the McConnell Arena in Montreal, Que.
With the win the Rams picked up their seventh straight victory and improved to 12-2-1 on the year for sole possession of the No. 1 power ranking in the OUA.
Rams’ Josh Sterk reached legend status with his overtime winning goal. His third goal of the season is undoubtedly the biggest goal of the Rams’ season thus far and was the lone one scored after 60-plus minutes Friday night.
The talk of the town leading up to Friday night’s bout was the undeniable offensive abilities that lived within the forward units of both the Rams and the Redmen. Both squads averaged over four goals-per-game coming into Friday, but as a result of the impressive play from the game's net-minders, the opening twenty minutes ended in a 0-0 draw.
Rams’ Charlie Graham and Redmen’s Louis-Philip Guidon traded a number of gorgeous saves throughout the opening frame. Graham was tested frequently in the first but steered aside 11 quality shots in order to keep the Redmen at bay. Guidon experienced a fair share of shots as well from the Rams and managed to get a piece of all 17 of them, including three magnificent glove saves stretched over the course of the period.
The world-class speed continued from the first into the second and led to a number of clutch-and-grab penalties. Despite 12 special teams opportunities split between the two in the second, neither side could solve the code for what it took to score.
Early in the period, the Redmen’s Francis Lembert-Lemay and captain Patrick Delise-Houde took back-to-back infractions just seconds apart, and put the Rams up two-men. After the Redmen’s Jerome Verrier broke his stick on the kill, it seemed inevitable that the Rams would capitalize on the dream opportunity. Verrier sprawled around the ice stick-less in desperate fashion for what seemed like an eternity, but proved he can still get things done without the use of his twig after he deflected a Basso shot out of play for a crucial whistle.
The best chance in the second came with five-minutes left in the period after Rams’ Vince Figliomeni had a glorious opportunity on the breakaway. Figliomeni looked to send the puck underneath the arm and over the pad of Guidon, but once again, Guidon remained unbeatable for a game-saving stop.
The third period commenced with the feeling that whoever scored first would indeed reign victorious. Head coaches Johnny Duco and Kelly Nobes shortened the benches in hope of finding the right combination to break the seal. Verrier had the best Redmen chance in the period after he hammered a one-time shot off the iron with just four-minutes remaining. Matt Mistele of the Rams then did his best Verrier impression at the other end of the ice and belted a shot off the post in the game's final minute. After three periods and 60 minutes of play, two of the OUA’s top scoring teams remained scoreless and needed bonus hockey to determine the final outcome.
Sterk made quick work in the fourth frame and capitalized on a horrendous Redmen giveaway. With a quick forehand backhand deke, Sterk accomplished a feat that no other player could muster Friday night, and scored the OT winner to give the Rams’ their biggest win of the 2016-17 season.
Guidon made 40 saves in the losing effort and is fitting of the Redman’s hardhat for player of the game after his performance.
Rams’ Graham made 36 saves for his second consecutive shutout and improved to 8-2 on the year with a 2.35 GAA.
The Rams will look to make it eight in a row in less than 24-hours as they head down highway 417 to take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees at the Minto Sports Complex in Ottawa. Game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start and can be streamed live via oua.tv.