Armstrong's four point night leads Rams to victory
TORONTO - An eight-goal outing was more than enough for the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team as they picked up their third straight victory in a lopsided 8-3 final against the Waterloo Warriors Thursday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
The line of Marcus Hinds, Daniel Clairmont, and Aaron Armstrong had a night to remember and combined for four goals on the evening. Clairmont finished the evening with a goal and two assists for three-points, while Hinds contributed with a goal and two assists for a three-point night of his own. Armstrong ultimately came away with first star honors, after he picked up his second four-point night on the season with a goal and three assists.
The trio showcased a level of chemistry that had all the necessary tools for damage Thursday and left the Warriors helpless from start to finish.
“Clairmont just has that quick release and when you get him the puck, he always finds a way to put it in. And Hinds, he just works the entire game and has so much composure,” said Armstrong regarding his line mates. “I think we see the game similarly just with some of the passes he makes out there. It’s a lot of fun playing with those guys.”
The fun began midway through the first after the Warriors’ stud defenseman, Mike Moffat, got called for hooking. The Rams made quick work of the man advantage and set up an eager Clairmont in front for the marker. A quick shot from Clairmont fooled Warriors’ starting net minder, Mike Morrison, for the game's opening goal and represented Clairmont’s first of two in the opening period.
After the Warriors allowed the Rams a gift on the power play early, one would think that a disciplined style of play might be the better option. However, the Warriors decided to try their luck once again on the penalty kill, only to give up yet another marker for a two-goal deficit. Devon Paliani flew up the ice before finding Matt Mistele in the slot, who sent a perfectly placed pass to Josh Sterk for the one-timer.
The special teams tables turned later in the first as the Warriors received their first opportunity on the power play. Things didn’t go quite as planned, however, after Armstrong pulled off a gorgeous spin-o-rama solo effort for his fourth shorthanded goal of the season and his 12th goal of the year.
The Rams concluded their first period scoring off of Clairmont’s second of the game late in the first. Armstrong won a clean faceoff back to Hinds, who hit an open Clairmont at the top of the circle for yet another quick release. Clairmont’s fourth of the year was the Rams fourth and final goal of the period as they took a 4-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes.
The Warriors opted to go to their backup, Chris Hurry, for the remainder of the game in hopes that a goalie change may alter the game's current momentum. The desperate attempt to stop the bleeding didn’t quite pan out, however, with Matt Mistele and Michael Fine adding to the blowout with goals. A gorgeous dangle and finish from Mistele along with an end-to-end beauty from Fine blew the game right open and made it a 6-0 game.
Cole Murphy of the Warriors finally beat what had been an unbeatable Charlie Graham between the pipes for the Rams and got the Warriors on the board just under five minutes left in the second.
The Warriors took whatever momentum they sustained with the late second period goal and had a solid start to the third. Despite a 6-1 score, the Warriors looked anything but discouraged in the final period as they searched for as much dignity as they could salvage. Goals from Stephen Silas and Cam Nicoll less than 25 seconds a part forced Rams’ head coach Johnny Duco to call a timeout as the Warriors clawed back to make it 6-3.
The Rams sputtered but never faltered, as a Hinds marker and a Vince Figliomeni empty netter eliminated the possibility of any sort of miraculous comeback, and help the Rams avoid a late scare from the Warriors for a 8-3 victory.
“I think we got away from our systems a bit at times and we could have clamped it down defensively a little bit more,” said Duco following the win. “We like to breakout down the middle of the ice and there were quite a few times that we were throwing pucks away. We’re happy with the result, but as a team, we didn’t play to our fullest potential. But good teams find a way to win.”
Graham returned to the crease for the Rams in the win and put up an exceptional performance in his first start of 2017. He came into the game having not allowed a goal in over 163 minutes, but saw his shutout streak snapped at 199 minutes after Murphy’s second period goal. Graham offered a calm and cooling presence for the Rams en route to 31 saves for his ninth win of the season.
The Rams will have to prepare for a far different contest against the Windsor Lancers Saturday afternoon as the rivals will battle it out in an afternoon affair in what will be a physical exchange to say the least. The game is scheduled at 2:15 p.m. at the Mattamy Athletic Centre and can be streamed live via OUA.tv.