Red hot offence helps Rams men’s hockey to historic start

The Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team has come out firing to start the 2016-17 season.

After four games, the team has already scored an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) leading 23 goals. The Rams scored six times in their season opener against Wilfrid Laurier. Since then they have scored four on Windsor, eight on Brock and beat Lakehead 5-2 last night.

The Rams’ scoring touch has been a key component to the team’s historically good start. Never before has a Ryerson men’s hockey team started a season with four straight wins.

“We are all buying in. We’ve got a highly skilled team – I think the most skill I’ve played with in my five years,” said fifth-year captain Michael Fine. “The coaching staff is doing a good job.”

That depth of skill on the Rams roster has paid dividends early in the year. Throughout four games, 12 different Rams have already found the back of the net at least once.

Leading the way has been forward Aaron Armstrong, who scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season in last night’s victory. Add three assists, and it has been a big start to the year for Armstrong. 

“I think right now [I’m] just trying to work hard,” said Armstrong after Thursday’s game against Lakehead. “I’ve been playing with a little more confidence than last year and I think that is translating on the ice in terms of putting a few more pucks in.”

Armstrong isn’t alone. Confidence is surging through the team right now, according to Ryerson head coach Johnny Duco. He says that no matter what the scoreline is, the team continues to believe that they can win.

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That was on display last night against Lakehead. After falling behind 2-1 in the second period, Armstrong tied the score before the end of the frame. The Rams would go on to score three more goals in the third period en route to a 5-2 victory.

“I think the biggest thing that has been different from other years is that [when] we would get down, we would get frustrated, and we would stop executing and playing to our strengths,” said Duco.

He says the team’s biggest strength this season, in terms of their offence, has been their ability to possess the puck. That is something that he and his coaching staff worked on with the players during the offseason.

The team has been able to use this puck possession to generate scoring chances. So far this season they have peppered opposing goaltenders, averaging 35.3 shots per game.

“We are trying to put a few more pucks on the net and drive the net,” said Armstrong. “Sometimes we can fall into the habit of trying to make too pretty plays. But we’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot the puck.”

Despite their impressive start to the season, Rams players and coaches both say they aren’t taking anything for granted. But they also expressed pride in their early season accomplishments.

“We are happy about it,” said Duco. “We don’t try to look too far ahead or get too excited. We just try to win every game and get better each day and I think that’s what we’ve done and that’s why we’ve been able to be 4-0.”

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