Goal scoring was the question mark, when Ray Boudiette, the ninth highest scorer in Rams history, graduated. After the opening weekend of the 2017-18 season, it is no longer a question mark. The Rams put up 11 goals in two games after a 3-2 overtime victory on Friday, then an 8-0 lashing on Saturday against the Buffalo Bulls.
It took the Rams a period and a third to score their first goal of the season, courtesy of Jake Salisbury. The Cumberland, Rhode Island native buried a wrist shot, top shelf with 13:51 to go in the second. Minutes later, Salisbury’s hometown teammate Kyle McKenna found the back of the net with a slap shot from the point. Buffalo found their first goal of the game at 10:03 in the second to cut Rhode Island’s lead in half.
From there on in both teams would see an even skated hockey game up until 3:12 remaining in the game, when the Bulls scored on a loose puck to tie things up at 2. The game went into overtime and it did not take long for Rhode Island to put it away. Assistant Captain Filip Akermark decked his way through the Buffalo defense and buried the game winning goal to lead Rhode Island to their first victory of the season. Coach Augustine commented that the team had an opportunity to play better in their zone.
“If we had played better in our zone we wouldn’t have been in overtime,” he said. “Just a couple mistakes here and there.”
Coming off of a dramatic finish Rhode Island looked like they were hungry for another victory on Saturday. Rams co-captain and senior Mike Pesola started the fun with a goal just 2:32 seconds into the first. Minutes later Pesola found the back of the net again to make it 2-0. Luke Vendetto, Jonathon Alsfeld and Eddie Cordero also scored in the first period to make it 5-0 going into the break.
“The second game the older guys picked it up and showed on the score sheet,” Augustine stated. The second period was scoreless and a big reason was the play of Rams’ goaltender, JT Ketzenberger. Ketzenberger played about half the games last year, rotating with the now graduate, Caleb Neal. “Right now he’s the heir apparent. I thought he played well, and it’s his job right now.” Ketzenberger finished this weekend 2-0 with one shutout and saved 25 shots in the shutout win.
Heading into the third, the Rams looked to put a final proverbial nail in the coffin. Alsfeld scored for his second time in the game, followed by goals from Evan Rankin and Sandy Gray. The Rams held off to win 8-0 and completed the sweep against Buffalo. Moving forward Coach Augustine said that the team will clean up some defensive issues.
“We have to get way better in our zone… it was a lot harder than it should have been. A lot of things we have to clean up. Nothing major, but it’s going to make everything easier for everybody.” Rhode Island sits at 23rd in the ACHA. The Rams play next against West Chester University, at the Boss Ice Arena, Friday at 7 p.m.