Chase Johnson beats Grimsby's Riley Eberhardt with the shorthanded winner to give Glanbrook a 3-2 victory in Game 2.


GLANBROOK (Apr. 6) — Chase Johnson electrified the crowd and his teammates, stunned the opposition and put a charge into the Glanbrook Rangers’ playoff ambitions as he scored a shorthanded goal with just 1:43 remaining in the third period to pace the Rangers to a 3-2 triumph over the Grimsby Peach Kings and a hefty 2-0 lead in their Bloomfield Division Final series.

While Johnson’s goal was a notable achievement in and of itself, the circumstances that prevailed at the time lifted it in dramatic terms into the stratosphere.  Here was the scenario that served as the prelude to Johnson’s virtuoso moment:   The Rangers held a comfortable 2-1 lead as the third period of a not-terribly exciting contest wound down.  While not dominant by any means, the Rangers still seemed well on their way to a second consecutive victory.  And then (cue the ominous music),  disaster occurred. Or at least potential disaster.

With just over four minutes remaining, Glanbrook’s Aiden Ferguson was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for head-checking.  That meant:

  1.  The Peach Kings would have a power play until the end of the third period.
  2.  Even if they scored, they would still retain the man-advantage.
  3.  The power play would extend for a full minute into an overtime period (if there was one).

Not the most comfortable of positions to be in, and when Grimsby’s Maxim Ljuboja scored the equalizer at 17:22, it would be reasonable to say that the Rangers were in dire straits.  Or, maybe not.

“Our PK has been really good in these playoffs,” said Rangers coach Andrew Tait.  “It’s true, we weren’t in a good situation, but we felt we could trust our guys to do their jobs.  Stick to the plan, kill the rest of it off and use that momentum to move forward.  And rather than fall down, the guys got pretty fired up.  They all realized they had a job to do.”

And they set about it with no delay.  Instead of being deflated by Grimsby’s resurgence, the Rangers penalty killing unit, which has been nothing short of heroic, accepted the challenge.  Barely a minute after Ljuboja’s goal, Johnson chased a Peach King defender into his zone, stripped him of the puck and beat Grimsby’s Riley Eberhardt with the decisive tally.

“I was just trying to angle their defenceman to the boards,” explained Johnson.  “I knew that Christian (Stevens) had the cross-ice pass covered, I was just hoping to force him into making the wrong play.  And he did.  In our (penalty-killing) practices,  we emphasize being aggressive as we can.”

Of course, after the celebration, the Rangers were faced with the prospect of still being shorthanded for (what they hoped) would be the final minute and 43 seconds of the third period.  But that proved to be of little consequence.  The Rangers, backed solidly in goal by Ethan Cook, who won his fourth consecutive start,  remained unruffled to the end.

“The feeling on the bench was ‘Let’s all just work together’,”   said Johnson.  “The consensus was just to kill it off and win this game. Be strong in our own end and let’s go home.  Never bend, never fold.”

NOTES:   Brennan Ireland scored his second goal of the playoffs on shot from the point to open the scoring for Glanbrook early in the second period, while Cooper Hood deflected another point shot for his eighth post-season goal to re-establish a 2-1 lead for the Rangers at 16:26 of the middle stanza after Grimsby’s Ben Switzer had brought the Peach Kings into a 1-1 tie … The Rangers power-play has also been performing at a high level in these playoffs.  They were 2-for-6 in this contest, while the PK thwarted all three of Grimsby’s power-play opportunities … Cook made 22 saves in recording his fifth playoff win … Ferguson faces a two-game suspension for his penalty since it occurred in the final ten minutes of the third period. … The pivotal Game 3 goes Friday, Apr. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Peach King Arena.