Rangers captain Sean Golebiowski fires a shot that beats Dundas goalie Austin Strom and completes his hat trick in Glanbrook's 5-2 win.


GLANBROOK (Nov. 30) — The Glanbrook Rangers drove their way to the midway point of the 2022-23 season like a runaway train, riding a 12-game winning streak (with 18 wins in their last 19 games), that has propelled them to the summit of the PJHL.  After the latest stop along the way — a 5-2 triumph over the Dundas Blues — the Rangers hit the heights with the most wins (19) and points (38) of all the loop’s 60 teams.

Sean Golebiowski led the way for the Rangers with three goals — his third hat-trick of the season, and his second in the past three games — while Eric Bridgwater and Justin Vermeulen rounded out the scoring.  Jason Sviergula picked up the win in net, his ninth victory without a loss.

It’s been a remarkable journey for the Rangers up to this point as they’ve established themselves as the class of the Bloomfield Division and a genuine candidate for a profitable playoff run.

“Coming into the season, we knew we had a good team … on paper,” said Rangers coach Andrew Tait.   “We brought in some key acquisitions and a lot of veteran presence.  All the credit goes to the guys.  They worked hard all summer and came ready for the season.”

The keys to the Rangers success have been many and varied:  a balanced offence with four solid lines, a hefty and mobile defensive corps, outstanding support from the goaltending tandem of Sviergula and Tiago Rocha, an effective penalty-killing unit (they’ve allowed only 19 man-advantage goals despite being one of the most penalized teams in the league), and a  potent power play that operates at a 25 per cent efficiency rate.

“We have great depth up and down our lineup,” said Tait.  “We have 20 guys who can play any role; do anything we ask of them.  And that’s backed up with great goaltending.  We can play with a lot of confidence knowing we have those guys.”

All those qualities have meshed to create a formidable outfit.  On offence, the Rangers lead their division with 105 goals over the first 21 games, an average of five per outing,  while the defence has allowed a mere 44,  a breathtaking goal differential of +61.  By comparison, their closest divisional rival in that department are the Grimsby Peach Kings with a +19 tally.

The emergence of Golebiowski as one of the league’s premier scorers has been another crucial factor.  The lanky 21-year-old winger is third in the PJHL with 40 points on 22 goals and 18 assists, while Cooper Hood has likewise experienced a surge in production and is close behind his linemate with 16 goals and 22 assists.  Centre Ryan Burke rounds out the team’s top troika with 10 goals and 16 assists.

Golebiowski’s skills were on full display against the Blues.  He swept down the wing and curled around two defenders to bury a backhand to open the scoring at 8:25 of the first period, added a shorthanded goal at 6:59 of the second and followed with his seventh goal in the past three games at 11:27 of the same frame.  Bridgwater, who recently shifted from the defensive unit to forward, contributed his fifth of the season at 15:54 of the first and Vermeulen chipped in with his ninth tally in the waning moments of the third period.  Sviergula turned in a 26-save effort.   Josiah Van Gurp and Aiden Leet replied with power-play goals for Dundas.

With just three games to go until the holiday hiatus, the Rangers are primed to continue their hot streak.  But despite their impressive accomplishments so far, Tait said there is still work to be done.

“Success in the first half of the season doesn’t equate to anything in the end,” he said.  “We can still tighten up our  positional play in the defensive zone and our discipline with regards to penalties.  There are all sorts of things that need to be tweaked.”

NOTES:  The Rangers have a 5-0 mark against the Blues this season, outscoring Dundas by a 27-11 margin.  Of note, the Blues have only scored one goal at even strength against Glanbrook … Golebiowski is on a 17-game point-scoring streak stretching back to Sept. 28.  Hood, likewise, has picked up points in his last 15 consecutive games … Golebiowski’s shorthanded goal was Glanbrook’s third of the season.  Eric Taylor has the other two. … Glanbrook is third overall in the PJHL with 466 penalty minutes, behind Huntsville (610) and North Kawartha (572).