The series is now tied 1–1, setting up a do-or-die game for both teams on Sunday in Toronto. The Western Mustangs men’s hockey team defeated the Ryerson Rams 5–1 at Thompson Arena on Friday, following a 4–2 loss on Wednesday in the best-of-three series opener.
Just five minutes into the game, Mustangs centreman Kolten Olynek received the puck from defenceman Zach Core and started a rush up the ice. Two-on-one in the offensive zone, Olynek found Trevor Warnaar with a backdoor pass to open the game's scoring.
“Kolten has had a great first year for us," said Mustangs head coach, Clarke Singer. He’s great on draws, he’s physical, he’s good defensively. He plays with that edge and passion. Incredibly happy with his performance again tonight.”
Five minutes later, Rob Polesello seemed to have Ryerson's goaltender beat, but his shot richocheted off the post. Cordell James was there to handle the rebound and put the Mustangs up 2–0 less than 10 minutes into the first.
A sign of things to come for the Rams, Ryerson started the second period with a penalty to forward Lucas Froese for hooking, just under two minutes into the period.
Just under two minutes into the second period, Ryerson's Lucas Froese was assessed a minor penalty for hooking. Ryerson ran into penalty trouble throughout the night, racking up five minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct.
Singer, took the opportunity with the extra man to send out the game's two goal scorers — James and Warnarr — to try and generate some scoring chances on the power play.
The decision paid off for Singer. James made a beautiful pass to Warnarr in front of the net and Warnarr, without hesitation, redirected it into the net to put the Mustangs up 3–0 in the second.
About two minutes later, James would again find a rebound in front of the net to put the Mustangs up 4–0.
The tension in the arena was beginning to rise heading into the second intermission. After a few careless penalties from the Rams, the Ryerson bench was increasingly incensed with the referees.
Much to the delight of the Rams, Western's Stephen Desrocher was assessed a two-minute penalty for tripping early in the third period.
But Ryerson was unable to beat the Western penalty killers. Goaltender Luke Peressini's performance was especially notable, and his highlight-worthy diving save on the penalty kill kept the Mustangs up by four.
“[Peressini has] been our rock, our MVP for us this second half [of the season],” said Singer. “Again tonight he was one of our top two or three guys.”
With two of Western's forwards one goal away from a hat trick, it was Warnaar who was able to complete the challenge. Stuck behind the net, Warnaar drove to the front and banged in a goal short side to notch his fourth point of the game and his fifth of the playoffs.
“I think their defenceman thought I was [going to] carry to the corner so [he] gave me the lane to the net,” said Warnaar of his third goal. “So I got it in, and a couple wacks, and it got through.”
The Rams tallied their only goal of the game late in the third. The goal was set up by a cross checking penalty to Western defenceman David Eccles after a skirmish in front of the Mustangs net. A play that could have easily seen men from both teams go off for offsetting penalties.
The Mustangs and Rams will play the final game of their best-of-three series on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7:15 p.m. in Toronto. The winner will move on to the second round of the Queen's Cup playoffs.