Photo by Anders Marshall

The Rams women’s hockey team defeated the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks 52 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Thursday night.

Ridgebacks forward Chelsea Ball struck first halfway through the period. The Rams failed to capitalize on a power play minutes later, and turned over the puck in their zone under pressure. The Rams trailed leading into the second, but were bright offensively, notching six shots to UOIT’s five.

The Rams started the second half quickly, scoring a disallowed goal after the whistle blew for a Ridgebacks penalty. Forward Lauren Nicholson levelled the score when she batted the puck out of the air to beat Ridgebacks goaltender Celine Tessier from close range, with 11 minutes left in the period.

Nicholson put the Rams ahead less than two minutes later from the top of the circle, besting Tessier short side to make the score 2-1 leading into the third. The Rams added 10 shots to their tally and appeared to be in control of the game at both ends of the ice, manufacturing better scoring opportunities and forcing the Ridgebacks to turnover the puck with increasing regularity.

Rams forward Sarah McGilvray opened the scoring early in the third early when she weaved her way through the Ridgebacks’ compact defence, putting the Rams ahead 3-1 in under three minutes of play.

The Ridgebacks pulled one back halfway through the period when forward Jamie Bulleid fired past Rams goaltender Fanny Vigeant.

The gloves nearly came off on the following play between Rams forward Kryshanda Green and Ridgebacks defender Jillian Banks, resulting in a four-on-four game.

Nicholson wasted no time or open ice, finishing off her hat trick just seconds into the next play and restoring the Rams’ two-goal cushion in the third period.

“It’s always nice to contribute offensively, and it’s a very big win for us as we head into the playoffs,” Nicholson said. “(My teammates were) pretty pumped about (my hat trick), it was nice to have their support.”

Rams head coach Lisa Haley said Nicholson’s hat trick represents a breakthrough in her development as a second-year player.

“You could see it coming,” Haley said. “She’s got that fantastic shot and she’s finding ways to get pucks through (on net) now.

“Tonight was one of those nights that it was going in the net for her, and I hope that continues. We’re excited to have her (in hot form).”

Rams forward Emma Low-A-Chee put the game beyond doubt with a fluke goal, which deflected off the back of Tessier’s skate and trickled across the goal line. The Rams were up 5-2 with five minutes left in the game, and that’s how it ended. A comfortable win for the Rams in the end, after a dicey second period.

The Rams’ final game of the season comes against the Guelph Gryphons. Haley called them “one of the hottest teams in the second semester.” Nicholson said it’s an important game because it represents the chance to head into the playoffs on the right foot.

The Rams host the  Gryphons on Sunday at home for their final game of the season. The puck drops at 2:15 p.m.

Anders is a freelance photojournalist from Toronto. Photo pits, arena sidelines and music studios are where he's happiest.

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