TORONTO – It was an unfortunate night for the Ryerson Rams as they fell 4-3 to the visiting Queen’s Gaels in a match-up that had been touted as a key benchmark for the team’s performance going into the remainder of the season.
The game started off with the amount of energy and physicality that one would expect from such a marquee match-up. The moment the puck hit the ice to signal the start of the first period, the Gaels opened up with an aggressive offensive tactic that seemed to catch the Rams off guard. Through the utilization of quick-handed passing and close range shot attempts, the visiting Queen’s team was able to pick apart a Rams line-up that is accustomed to employing a tight-knit zone defense to deal with point shots. Through this effort, the Gaels were able to open the scoring nine minutes into the period when Warren Steele (Williamsburg, Ont.) rocketed in a wrist shot from just outside the blue ice.
The Rams, however, were by no means outplayed in the first period. Whatever the Gaels seemed to throw at them, the Rams were able to respond to. Just over a minute after the goal by Steele, Ryerson’s Aaron Armstrong (Teeswater, Ont.) equalized the scoreboard off of an assist by Alex Basso (Toronto, Ont.) and Matt Mistele (Whitby, Ont.). Following this goal, the Rams seemed to keep the Gaels at bay, and both teams seemed destined to go into the locker room with a tied up scoreboard.
Unfortunately, Queen’s forward Jaden Lindo (Brampton, Ont.) rocketed a howitzer of a point shot past Rams’ goalkeeper Mario Culina (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) in the last minute of play to give the visiting Gaels the advantage heading into the first intermission.
Storming back onto the ice for the second period of play, the Rams seemed to have fixed whatever was slowing them down in the first period. As play continued, the Rams seemed to have adapted to Queen’s style of offensive play, shutting down all potential opportunities that the Gaels sought to capitalize on.
At the same time, the Rams made sure to take advantage of offensive opportunities that came their way. A little over two minutes into the second period, Rams’ forward Aaron Armstrong recorded his second goal of the game and his fourth on the season to equalize the scoreboard on the powerplay. Only thirty seconds would pass when the Rams would find the goal that would put them in front for the first time in the game. Said goal would be provided by Austin Clapham (Toronto, Ont.) who rocketed a one-timer effort past Gaels goalkeeper Kevin Bailie (Belleville, Ont.).
“It felt amazing to get my first U SPORTS goal and put the boys up in the game,” remarked Clapham on recording his first goal of the season.
With the lead in the game, and the potential to go 4-0-0 to start off the season, the Rams did all they could to hold onto their advantage going into the second intermission. However, these efforts were to no avail, as Queen’s forward Eric Ming (Williamstown, Ont.) buried a slapshot in the back of the Rams net on the powerplay to even up the scoreboard with less than five minutes to play in the period. With the scoreboard tied up at three goals a piece, the two goliaths of OUA men’s hockey headed into their respective locker rooms with an all-or-nothing third period hanging over their heads.
“We wanted to empty the tank, we didn’t want to save anything and we needed our best players to step-up,” remarked head coach Johnny Duco on the team’s strategy going into the third period.
The team seemed to take this strategy to heart. As play continued, the Rams threw everything they had at the Gaels, on both ends of the ice, in an effort to pull away another win for the season. In spite of the efforts however, it would be the visiting team that would carry the day, as Queen’s forward Ben Fanjoy (Ottawa, Ont.) tipped in a loose puck to give the Gaels the 4-3 lead that would lead them to victory.
“I feel a couple unfortunate bounces ended up in our net, and things could have been different,” stated Duco on the final result of the game adding, “we want to fix a few things on our defensive end, and iron out a few kinks in our offensive attack, but I was really happy with the way the guys executed our game plan today.”
The Rams return to action this Wednesday, October 25 when they host the Laurier Golden Hawks for the #5AtTheMAC game.