Rams triumph in Mattamy debut

By Ryan McKenna
Mark Corbett (left) and Jason Kelly celebrate a Rams goal in the first game on Mattamy Home Ice.
Mark Corbett (left) and Jason Kelly celebrate a Rams goal in the first game on Mattamy Home Ice.
Photo by Winston Chow
TORONTO - Hockey is back at the corner of Carlton and Church Streets.  For the first time since 1999, hockey was played at the Gardens and the Ryerson Rams men's hockey team defeated the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks, 5-4.  The game was part of the grand opening festivities at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens.

The Rams ran into penalty trouble to start the game.  Three minor penalties were assessed in under two minutes and the Ridgebacks took advantage.  Kevin George scored a power play goal goal at 13:57 to score the first-ever goal in the new facilities.

Defencemen Brian Birkhoff, replied for Ryerson with the first-ever Rams goal in Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens, off a wrist-shot from just above the right-hand circle.  For Birkhoff, the feeling to play in the same building as Leafs legends was a good one. 

"As a kid I came to watch so many Leaf games here and was actually able to skate on the ice surface as a kid.  Actually playing on it now, it's a surreal feeling," said Birkhoff. 

The Ridgebacks replied at 5:34 to take a 2-1 lead going into the second frame.

A Birkhoff slap shot from the point tied the game at two to kick-off the second period.  The Ridgebacks came right back with a goal by Jessie Stoughton off a giveaway, a rocket point-blank slap-shot past Rams starting goaltender, Troy Passingham.

Going into the third period, the Ridgebacks held a 3-2 lead.

George, with his second of the night, extended the lead to 4-2 after a slap shot got by Rams back-up goalie Louie George, who was seeing his first game action since December 2011 in a game against the Ridgebacks.

The Rams stormed right back.  Exactly 15 seconds later, off a scramble in front, centre Jason Kelly picked up the puck and shoveled it into the back of the net.

That goal seemed to spark the Rams.  Charlottetown, P.E.I. native Mitch Gallant tied the game up on a power play shot past the goalies blocker.

Kelly, potted the game winner with his second of the night, a snap-shot that got past the Ridgebacks goalie.  For Kelly, the goal capped off a perfect evening, "It felt real good.  The energy in the crowd felt like a major-junior or a big hockey game, and it's so different from last year."

The Rams are back on the ice next Saturday, September 15, when they take on the Laurier Golden Hawks.  Puck drop is set for 2 p.m. at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens.

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