The #9 York Lions and Ryerson Rams kicked off their cross-town rivalry on Halloween last week, in what looked to be a closely contested matchup with both teams entering the game at just one-loss apiece.
Strangely, the single loss for each team came courtesy the other team in the Toronto equation, the Varsity Blues.
Before the puck even dropped, there was a sense that this would be a heated game, as each team fought to catch #10 Lakehead at the top of the OUA’s West Division.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to get started, either. York’s Mike Lombardi scored just twenty-nine seconds into the contest, on a beautiful pass from Lions captain Jesse Messier.
The teams traded shots for the period, keeping both Ryerson’s Adam Courchaine and York’s Andrew Perugini busy throughout the frame.
Ryerson was able to tie things up not too long after the midway point of the first, as Mitch Gallant banged home the rebound off a Jason McDonough shot.
However, the tie didn’t last long. Messier was able to slide the puck through Courchaine’s five-hole and regain the one-goal lead for the Lions.
The Lions were able to take that lead into the first intermission, largely thanks to the strong play of Perugini who made eleven saves in the frame.
Unfortunately for York, that luck ran out in the second period, which started out sloppy for both teams. There were several avoidable turnovers, poor shot attempts on net, and just a general slow, sluggish feel to the game.
However, that all ended when Ryerson’s Dustin Alcock scored off a nice turnaround wrist-shot from the sideboards, picking up a big rebound following Peter Hermenegildo’s shot, seven minutes into the period. That’s when the floodgates temporarily opened.
Victor Terreri scored a powerplay goal four and a half minutes later, on a controversial goalmouth scramble that put the Rams ahead. York was upset, as it appeared Perugini’s helmet came off, which should have resulted in play being whistled dead, but the referees came to the decision that the puck had already crossed the line when the helmet came off. As part of the arguments following the goal, York’s Troy Barss received a ten-minute misconduct, creating a big swing in the Rams' favour.
Ryerson took advantage of the momentum, with Domenic Alberga quickly scoring his sixth of the season a mere thirty-five seconds later. The Rams would take that 4-2 lead into the second intermission, following another high-offense period where the Rams outshot the Lions 16-12.
In the final frame, momentum swung back in York’s favour. Lombardi broke in on a breakaway off the opening faceoff but rung it off the post, and the Lions kept momentum as they peppered Courchaine with shots and the home crowd began to buzz.
Lombardi worked hard and was able to bury his second of the game with six and a half minutes to go, closing the lead to 4-3.
York put a lot of pressure on the Ryerson defenseman for most of the remaining time, before their second too-many-men penalty of the game came with less than two minutes left to seal their fate. With a man-advantage and a one-goal lead, Ryerson merely controlled the puck and escaped with their one-goal lead still intact, moving to 5-1-0 on the season. Ryerson outshot York 36-35 in the game that saw both goalies stand out.
Surprisingly considering their strong starts, both teams dropped their second weekend matchups. Ryerson fell to Western by a 6-4 tally on Saturday night, while Windsor had an easy time defeating York 4-1, giving the Lions their third straight loss that will certainly see them booted from the CIS Top Ten.
York will play Carleton and RMC this week, whereas Ryerson won't play at all. They must forfeit their next two games after some players apparently broke the school's code of conduct by drinking alcohol on their road trip to play Princeton University on Oct. 18 and 19. The infraction was severe enough for the school to suspend head coach Graham Wise for four games as well, though all four games happen to be against teams in the East division.
Join us Saturday for the next rendition of the OUA Hockey Game of the Week, when the 5-1-0 Western Mustangs visit Montréal to face the 5-1-1 McGill Redmen.