Ryerson hosted its first homecoming in nearly forty years, beating the Queen’s Gaels 4-1 in preseason action of Friday night on home ice.
Not only was it the first time there was a homecoming in a long time, but it was also the first time the Rams dawned their newest threads. The new gold third jerseys, which were released on Thursday made their on-ice debut in front of the raucous crowd, playing their part in what was an exhilarating night on school spirit and hockey.
In front of a seated out crowd, the Rams played one of the most exciting preseason games ever. The game started off with a lot of spirit and physicality. The Queens Gael’s came into the game hoping to spoil the school spirit of the Ryerson crowd but failed to do so in any way possible.
It was the two teams first meeting since 2017-18, as both teams were split up after the OUA went to a new divisional setup. Given that, there was an underlying unfamiliarity and rivalry between the Gael’s and Rams.
The first period was a throwback to the type of hockey that used to happen under the maple leaf gardens roof. Rough and tumble old style hockey dominated the first period, and both teams took unnecessary and undisciplined penalties. Both teams were charged from the energy of the crows, leading to the sloppy penalties. Ryerson, the team who found the box first had a strong penalty kill, being able to kill off every onslaught of Gael’s offence. On the other side of the special teams battle, the Rams powerplay was truly elite.
After a bruising 19:45, Ryerson opened the scoring with a picturesque powerplay goal coming off the blade of Calvin Leth. the goal was the climax of the first, giving Ryerson momentum heading into the final two frames.
Although they held the lead, there were many things to work on after Ryerson’s first period; the most important being discipline.
In speaking with The Eyeopener’s Hayden Godfrey, head coach Johnny Duco said “We talked about not taking undisciplined penalties, It’s something we addressed, and after the first [period], we didn’t take any more, so we settled down.”
Clearly that intermission talk worked, as the Rams cleaned up their discipline for the remainder of the game.
The second period saw ryerson put together another wonderful powerplay, this time finished by Hayden McCool, to give the Rams a 2-0 lead. Throughout the night goaltender, Taylor Dupuis was outstanding for the Rams- and was the key to the victory. Dupuis showed his veteran presence throughout the night, being able to calm down the game when needed, as well as make magnificent saves when called upon. He made 39 saves, facing 40 shots, in what was a memorable performance for the fifth year netminder.
The Gael’s got their one and only goal of the night on a defensive fluster from the Rams defence. A cluster of defenders immobilized Dupuis, who was unable to make the miraculous save.
Ryerson was quick to regain their two-goal lead, and add on to it throughout the third period- finishing the game as 4-1 victors over lat years OUA champions.
The Rams went through a big turnover of players this year and brought in five new bodies. One of the new faces who showed very well on Friday night was Aaron Hyman. The physical defender and former Regina Pat ran the powerplay for the Rams, and his connection to the forwards made it look like he has been a part of the team for a while.
At the end of the day, what started as a preseason game became one of the most important of the season. In front of the exhilarating crowd, the energy spread from the top of the stands and penetrated its way into the foundations of the former Maple Leaf Gardens. Also collected by Godfrey was how much Dupuis was outspoken about the atmosphere after the game, saying “We could hear them from the locker room, it was very nice to have homecoming here instead of the Argos.”
With the energizing homecoming win, ryerson heads into the second half of their preseason, where they get set to take on the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks for the second time ahead of their OUA campaign.
Photo credits to Alex D’addese and Christian Bender.