By: Matthew Rodrigopulle
The crowd exploded as Ryerson goaltender Taylor Dupuis made a string of saves shorthanded, ultimately propelling his team to victory.
The Ryerson Rams defeated the Queen’s Gaels 4-1 in their homecoming game on Friday night.
Dupuis was a rock in net for Ryerson, making a plethora of saves throughout the night in front of a full Ryerson Rams home crowd.
“He’s a veteran guy; I’ve seen him do it now for five years,” coach Johnny Duco said about Dupuis. “For me, it’s encouraging to see this early him be that sharp.”
“Anytime you got a big crowd like that…there’s kind of an added excitement or a little added pressure,” Dupuis said. “They were loud and it was good to see that support because we feel that.”
“I think tonight was more about Ryerson as a whole. Not just our hockey team, not just athletics but Ryerson coming together… So to see it be a success and to get a win here in front of them kind of makes it that much sweeter.”
Since this was the Rams’ homecoming game, fans participated in several pregame festivities on Ryerson’s campus, including a tailgate party and a march to the Mattamy Athletic Centre. It all resulted in a packed and booming crowd for the Rams.
The first period started off even-paced, with Queen’s taking control early. Ryerson however, fought back hard and got many good looks against Queen’s goaltender.
The physical play was evident in the first, forcing a few penalties throughout the period. The Rams hit a couple of bumps going down two men at one point, but Queen’s was unable to get one past Dupuis, who kept the score even.
The Rams kept battling right until the very end of the frame and with less than 30 seconds left, forward Cavin Leth let a quick snapshot soar into the back of the net. Just like that, the Rams opened the year at home leading 1-0 as the period came to a close.
The second period started a lot like the first. Both teams got many good looks, but the goaltenders stopped every single one of them. Dupuis continued his great play and protected Ryerson’s lead throughout the period.
Despite being a pre-season game, tensions were high and sparks flew. The Rams eventually drew a checking from behind call, which ultimately gave the Gaels a minor penalty and a game misconduct to Alex Row.
The Rams took full advantage of their power play when Mathew Santos sent a perfect pass to Hayden McCool, who one-timed the puck straight into the net. The Rams extended their lead to 2-0 with about five minutes left in the period.
The crowd was ecstatic, but Queen’s would soon quiet them down when Matthew Hotchkiss was able to get one past Dupuis, cutting the Rams lead to 2-1.
Heading into the final frame, the Rams knew they had a lead to protect. Immediately from the drop of the puck, the Rams came out with fast-flying offence. The Rams were determined to capitalize on their chances—and that’s exactly what they did.
Early in the period, defencemen Jared Walsh started a quick rush which ended with Patrick Fellows backhanding in a loose puck to make it 3-1 for the Rams.
Ryerson kept up that same energy for the rest of the night, capping off the game with one final power play goal from forward Mathew Santos. Dupuis kept up his solid play and the Rams skated off victoriously.
“It’s an exhibition game but it was definitely a little bit of an asterisk knowing that was homecoming and we want to put on a good show,” Duco said.
“Anytime you’re playing in front of that many fans and it’s loud, it’s a great atmosphere and definitely gives you a little bit of an extra jumper in there.”
Duco says the team will continue to use this pre-season to develop positive habits and give everybody on the roster opportunities.
The Rams will play another exhibition match Saturday afternoon against Ontario Tech. Their home opener for the regular season is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10 against the Guelph Gryphons.