DUNDAS (Dec. 2) — A disorderly opening turned into a frenzied finish as the Glanbrook Rangers fell 3-2 to the Dundas Blues in an emotionally-draining battle that ended when Blues forward J.D. McNeil scored on a penalty shot at the 2:16 mark of overtime.
The tension was evident as the Rangers, who entered the contest just two points behind their cross-town rivals in the South Bloomfield Division standings, stumbled through the opening stages, committing a series of transgressions: giveaways, errant passes, multiple icings and a penalty just 30 seconds in. And the game was barely five minutes old before the Rangers found themselves behind 2-0.
“I don’t think we really came ready to play,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “We found ourselves in a hole pretty quickly.”
However, in a remarkable reversal of fortunes, the Rangers shook off their doldrums and clawed back on a goal by Cooper Hood, his third of the season. And that’s how things stood, as the teams spent the next 50 minutes or so concentrating on trying to pulverize one another. Every inch of ice and every offensive drive exacted a heavy price. But the Rangers persevered and, with just 56 seconds left in regulation, Chase Johnson connected with his third marker of the campaign to bring the Rangers even at 2-2 and force overtime.
But the fireworks hadn’t finished yet. The feverish pace continued into the extra frame until a bobbled puck in the Blues’ zone sent McNeil away on a sprint toward the Glanbrook goal with the Rangers’ Sean Golebiowski in hot pursuit. On the play, the Rangers were already facing a delayed penalty until a collision propelled McNeil into the Rangers net and the referee, who had drawn the ire of players and fans alike with some calls (and non-calls), signalled for a penalty shot.
McNeil, the Blues leading scorer with 12 goals and six assists, made no mistake, beating Glanbrook goalie Mitch Robinson on a high stick-side shot for the win.
“We really battled back and managed to find a way to tie it up,” said Tait. “But one thing led to another … and here we are.”
NOTES: The Rangers have a 1-1-0-1 record against the Blues this season … This was Glanbrook’s fourth overtime loss of the season. They have a 2-4 tally in their six extra-time outings … Rangers’ forward Ethan Cloutier has been named to the South Division Prospect Roster for the PJHL Prospect Game against the West Division on Saturday, Dec. 18 in Norwich at 1 p.m. The game showcases the league’s top 16- and 17-year-old players. The North and East Divisions will square off in their Prospect Game on Saturday, Dec. 11 in Orillia.