The annual Toronto subway series took place on Friday at Mattamy Athletic Centre as the Ryerson Rams played host to Dalton Ewing and the visiting YorkU Lions. For Ryerson, they opened the new year at Maple Leaf Gardens with Winter Homecoming which saw Taylor Dupuis get the nod on home ice against backstop Cole Ceci and their crosstown rivals.
For Dupuis, the last time he played was back in September against the Queen’s Gaeles in the winter homecoming where he suffered an injury that saw him sidelined while replaced by Garrett Forrest. Making his return at winter homecoming, the game would see the former OHL backstop take to the crease for the marquee matchup against Cole Ceci, younger brother of Cody. Cody is a veteran defensemen currently playing for the Leafs in Toronto.
Onwards to game time at Ryerson which saw a slow first two minutes of play, it was Mathew Santos who broke open the scoring with his thirteenth goal of the regular season. Patrick Fellows earned an assist after setting him up just before Cole Ceci.
That would set the momentum in front of a jam packed crowd on Friday, however, the Rams suffered their first setback early with a goal from the Lions just ten minutes later. For York, it was Alex Mowbray with his fourth of the season to tie the game up at one.
With the scoreboard drawn even at one, it would see the puck headed back and forth, that being until Tyler Lentz, from the blue line, retrieved the puck coming down the boards. At this point, with plenty of room, he would send the puck up to David Miller who, five minutes later, would make no mistake and put it past Ceci for the tie-breaking goal. This would give the Rams a 2-1 lead over the YorkU Lions. The goal, Miller’s seventh of the season, was assisted by left-winger Hayden McCool.
In the final minutes of the game’s first period, the YorkU Lions would be called for slashing, this giving the Rams what would be their first power play, but having to wait as the frame came to a close. This would see Ryerson exit while holding a 2-1 lead over YorkU.
After the players got a chance to break off, the game’s second period coommenced in Toronto which saw the power play take effect for Ryerson, but it was killed off successfully in the first two minutes. As such, it brought more aggression with the Lions now looking to even the score. Just under three minutes in, the puck froze after the play was called for icing, letting the players on both ends have a breather as the Lions and Rams quickly switched up their lines.
With another two minutes now gone, Matt Mistele was sent off for high sticking, though at the same time, this giving the Rams what would be their second power play of the night. After the advantage wore off for Ryerson, the York Lions would take control with a pair of shots on Taylor Dupuis, though able to stop them with a pair of quick saves. This didn’t let the Rams up as Dylan Riley would finish it off with a shot, but Dupuis well positioned to make the save, stopping play.
With a face-off now from the Rams zone, it would see Ryerson and York battle hard with the hometown team coming out with the win. That would allow for Mathew Santos to dig back in while looking to do more and he did just that with a shorthanded breakaway up the ice towards Ceci, but stopped in front of the crease with a sprawling save.
At this point, with 14:12 left in the game’s second frame in downtown Toronto, it would see York be handed the power play, though a defensive Ryerson Rams team would be quick to kill it. While looking to even the score, the YorkU Lions would be assessed with a bench minor while found to have too many men on the ice. That would send a player off each for 30 seconds of four-on-four action.
With an easier task for a brief time, Gregory DiTomaso, behind the York net, would attempt to wrap one around the mesh past Ceci, but unable to do so while still leading by one. That would find the Rams now handed their third power play of the night. With the game an important one for the Lions, this would see the Rams tucked away and kept quiet, though with 0:52 remaining, the play would be stopped with the YorkU Lions being called for offside.
In the next few minutes of play, it would be shown as if it didn’t effect them as Sal Filice closed right in on Dupuis while banking one past him to tie the game up at two. The goal, scored with 6:19 left, would be his first goal of the regular season.
This would then bring the clock down with now only 4:53 left to play which would see Mathew Santos, around the York zone, dangle the puck on his stick for another breakaway. Unfortunately for the Rams, he would miss while looking to do further damage for Ryerson.
After another hard rush from both teams, the play would be stopped with 4:32 left. As the Lions continued working to even the score with the Ryerson Rams, it would see both sides exchange a pair of shots, though nothing to make of it with both backstops standing tall. Fast forward to the 3:41 mark, another stoppage of play would be called. That would put the Rams on the penalty kill, something the team does not often produce on. After the play returned back to even strength, the YorkU Lions would be put on the power play for another two minutes with 3:18 left to play.
Following an unsuccessful power play earlier, the Lions would make sure to make the most of their second as Alex Mobray, with 2:13 left, would give York their first lead of the game. For Mobray, the former member of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, the goal would be his fifth of the season and his second goal scored on the night against Ryerson. Looking ahead two minutes later with 9.7 seconds left on the clock, Alex Mobray would inflict more magic, going top corner on Dupuis from behind the Rams net. The hat trick goal would be his sixth and his third of the game to put York up 4-2. This would send Ryerson off hungry while trailing by two after forty minutes of play.
Once the third period began, it was off to the races for both sides respectively as the aggression stole the spotlight in the first two minutes with the Rams now looking to get back in the game. With this being said, a much needed power play was quickly handed to them as the York Lions were called for hooking, this enforcing a penalty at 18:14.
While playing through the advantage, Matt Mistele would promptly lead the way for the Rams with a pair of shots from the point on Ceci, but both deflected, bouncing back into play. Moving forward with the Rams now invading with a Ryerson scrum formed in front of the net, Brayden McCool would close in on the crease before making the pass alongside him to Mistele. Mistele would then send a short pass to Devon Paliani who would bank the puck in to tie the game up at three. The goal, scored at 16:57, would be put past Ceci on the power play, this being the case with 0:48 left and the goal being passed off with credit to Mistele. With that in mind, it would be his 135th point as a Ram.
With plenty of game still to be played and the York Lions now seeking their second lead, Alex Mowbray would dig up the puck and net a laser past Dupuis within seconds later. The goal, scored at 16:41, would be his third goal put in on the night, his hat trick goal and third point as well. This would give the Lions a 4-3 lead over the Ryerson Rams.
Minutes later, with the Lions still driving and not backing down to take the lead over Ryerson, Morgan Messenger would take matters into his own hands, this seeing him net another one right by Dupuis. This would double the Lions lead by two, 5-3 over the Rams with 14:49 left. Mobray, nearby the net, would receive an assist on the play, his fourth point. As the clock resumed after the goal, a stoppage of play would be called at 14:30 for both sides to recuperate. As the Rams looked to pick things up, it would be DiTomaso with a shot from the blue line, but stopped by Ceci at 14:13.
This would then see the Lions converting on the play from their own zone respectively, seeing a mass gathering form before Dupuis who would find himself busy after limiting York. However, with little defence set out ahead of him, the 25-year-old faced a big challenge, but in the midst of doing so, was fallen on by Benjamin Evanish who was sent to the penalty box for interference. As the play stalled for several minutes, it was discovered that Dupuis was bleeding which led to a medical delay on the ice. Unfortunately for the Rams starting goaltender, the decision was made to pull him as a precaution so he could be checked out.
Dupuis, just returning from injury, then grabbed his glove from on top of the net and stormed off the ice in obvious anger after feeling so good being started against the Lions. He was replaced by Garrett Forrest who would play out the rest with 13:05 left on the clock. This would also result in a Ryerson power play for the next two minutes.
Following the announcement that Evanish would be out for the next seven minutes after injuring Dupuis, Matt Mistele would return with another shot on Cole Ceci, but saved at the crease, stopping play once again with 12:30 remaining. That would result in a face-off from the right-side dot in the Lions zone which would see Mathew Santos win it, but briefly played before being whistled down. Again, but from the left-side dot, Santos would win the draw and take the puck out with him across the blue line.
Now in the YorkU zone, Santos would find Aaron Hyman nearby who would take a pair of point shots on Ceci, but going wide with both as the power play expired. Patrick Fellows would then take a shot, but stopped by Ceci very busy in the crease while silencing Ryerson. Now with 10:53 to play and the Rams still slowly catching up to the Lions, it would be Jesse Barwell on the side of the net, poking it right by Ceci for Ryerson’s fourth goal. The goal, cutting the Rams lead to one, would also be unassisted and his fifth of the season.
Following that, Rams defensemen Mark Shoemaker would drive to the net while seeking goal number five. Instead, his shot from the point would be saved by Ceci, this also stopping play with 10:21 remaining. As such, the two teams would square off on the draw for the puck from the Lions right-side dot, York beating Ryerson and taking it up, but converted by Santos who would take it back down. After taking a tip shot on Ceci, Matt Mistele would take another, but saved at 9:02, stopping play.
After another full minute of play, Mathew Santos would be called for offside, though this didn’t stop the Ryerson Rams. Zach Shankar, who has recently been clutch, would take a shot of his own from the point, however, just going wide with 6:50 to play. Moments later, an icing was called, this stopping play now at 6:32.
As if Santos hadn’t had enough while seeking the victory over York on Friday, the 24-year-old right-winger took a short-sided shot from just outside the crease, but stopped by Ceci. The Lions goaltender, relentless for York, would face another two minutes later, but wouldn’t let it faze him as he remained collected and up by one on the hometown Rams.
While winning is always a nice thought, it certainly didn’t stick much longer afterwards as Matt Nosella sniped a shot towards Ceci, but facing traffic on the way to the net. However, as Ceci attempted to find it, the puck trickled into the crease for a good goal. As such, his first goal of the season would tie the game up with 4:40 remaining. Assists on the play would be handed to Jesse Barwell and Devon Paliani.
Fast forward with just 2:37 left on the clock, the puck would be called for icing, this stopping the play in the YorkU zone. The Lions then called a timeout to confer with the coaches and re-align the defence. This would then find the Rams all over the puck in the final minutes as Paliani took a shot on Ceci, but stopped and deflected back into play. That would only be a good thing for the Ryerson Rams hosting winter homecoming as the puck then landed on the stick of Steven Harland who just happened to be so perfectly positioned with 1:48 to play.
Harland, without even thinking, would retrieve the loose puck from outside the crease and immediately snipe it on the net towards Ceci who just watched it go by him for the game-winning-goal. This would make the comeback official and give the Ryerson Rams a 6-5 lead over York. Assists on the play would be credited to Devon Paliani and Marcus Hinds.
In the final minute of play and Ryerson thinking about doubling up, Matt Mistele would partake in a foot race up the ice to the Lions zone where he’d take a shot on the net. Unfortunately, he would just go wide, however, still in the lead as the clock died down. A moment later, the Ryerson forward would find himself caught up against the boards in a scuffle with four members of the YorkU Lions, all battling for the puck to keep it away from the Rams. After poking it free, it would result in one last timeout after being called for icing with seven seconds remaining.
That would be just enough time for one last face-off for the puck to be drawn which would see the Rams win it back in their own zone where both the play and the clock would die down during one last scuffle at the boards for possession. This would then sound the horn as the Ryerson Rams took the game 6-5. Ryerson would exit the ice to the sound of joy coming down from the stands while Taylor Dupuis came back out to celebrate as they open the new year on home ice on a positive note.
Final shots at Mattamy Athletic Centre would be 48-25 in favour of Ryerson. The Rams, now 15-5-1, return to action in Toronto on Saturday when they welcome the Windsor Lancers to Maple Leaf Gardens with puck drop scheduled for 7:15pmET. The game, which is set to be played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the downtown core, is available for viewing on OUA.tv with coverage to follow on 49 Sports.