Written by: Ryan Bacic; Photos by: Christian Bender

TORONTO – It was a thrilling day for the Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team, as they acquired a 5-2 win over the visiting Lakehead Thunderwolves and freshman forward Cavin Leth (Taber, Alta.) set a record for the most goals scored by a Rams freshman in a single game.

The first period of play exhibited a tremendous amount of tenacity on behalf of both teams. The Rams brandished their typical degree of offensive aggression, storming the Thunderwolves zone throughout the period, and taking advantage of a Lakehead defense that seemed to permit significant player movements around their blue ice. Additionally, Rams progression upwards through the neutral zone seemed to be more smooth on Sunday afternoon than it has been in previous efforts, as cross-ice passes were more precise and quick, permitting only minimal interference on behalf of the visiting team. These advantages, however, did not come without drawbacks, and there are still things in the Ryerson playbook that need some work. Most apparent of all is the persistent problem of even-strength zone defense, which seems to be spread too wide, permitting cross-ice passes in the Ryerson zone to be accomplished with ease.

“We’ve paid a lot of attention to it, and defense comes down to a commitment, and whether or not all five guys are committed to getting back and playing defense,” stated head coach Johnny Duco, when asked about the team’s efforts to correct their defensive efforts in recent games.

While both teams were able to get on the scoreboard in the first period, only one name stood out to media officials and fans alike; Cavin Leth. Leth has been on something of an offensive hot-streak over the past two games, scoring against Brock and the University of Toronto. Tonight, however, was an exceptional display of the Albertan’s skill as he would provide all three goals the Rams tallied in the first period of play. Compared to this single handed offensive skill displayed, the visiting Thunderwolves could only muster one goal, provided by forward Scott Gall (Morden, Man.) twelve minutes into the period.

“He [Cavin] has been getting these chances all year,” remarked Duco on Leth’s incredible performance, adding, “and now they are starting to go in for him.”

Heading into the locker room up 3-1, it would be up to the Rams defensive effort to maintain the lead as both teams stormed the ice for the second period of play.

The next twenty minutes of play saw the Rams effort come in waves. As the period began, it appeared as though the Lakehead defense had begun to breakdown even more, as the Rams spent great lengths of the first ten minutes in the period occupying the Thunderwolves zone. Additionally, the second period saw Lakehead’s offensive intensity begin to diminish. In spite of this however, the Thunderwolves would be the only team to tally a goal in the second period, as forward Cooper Leitch (London, Ont.) tucked in a close range shot off of a Ryerson turnover to draw the visiting team within one goal of the Rams.

“We got away a little bit away from our game plan there in the second,” remarked Duco on what happened to the Rams playing style in the second period, adding, “and I thought our effort was a little bit subpar, but this was something we addressed in the intermission.”

And however head coach Duco decided to address this issue, it clearly worked, as the third period was dominated by the home team. From the initial puck drop to the final buzzer of the last period, the Rams took control of the playing style on both ends of the ice, disallowing several Lakehead offensive efforts and capitalizing on open chances on the opposite end of the rink.

As far as the scoreboard was concerned, two very familiar Rams names would once again appear. Three minutes into the period, forward Matt Mistele (Whitby, Ont.) would record his first goal of the game, and tenth of the season, to put the Rams up 4-2. Additionally, to cap off an already incredible night, Cavin Leth would tuck away his fourth goal of the evening on an open net, to give the Rams their final 5-2 win.

With this feat, Leth simultaneously became the first Rams freshman to ever record four goals in a single game, and only the third Ram to ever do so in program history.

One other Ram who deserves tremendous amounts of praise for their performance on the evening is forward Marcus Hinds (Toronto, Ont.) who recorded three assists on the evening, to bring his total assist count up to eight on the season.

The Rams will be back in action on Wednesday, November 15, at 7:15 pm against the Waterloo Warriors at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Fans are encouraged to come out and support the team, but those who cannot attend can watch all the action live on OUA.tv and by following the Ryerson Rams on twitter @ryersonrams.

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