DUNNVILLE (Sept. 23) – Ryan Burke’s breakaway goal at 2:07 of overtime salvaged a 3-2 victory for the Glanbrook Rangers over the Dunnville Mudcats. It was Burke’s second goal of the game and his fourth of the season.
Burke’s effort, combined with sturdy goaltending from rookie Jason Sviergula, was a welcome relief after the Rangers squandered a two-goal lead to the determined Mudcats. Glanbrook held the advantage through much of the first frame, outshooting the hosts by a 17-8 margin and connecting twice. Burke opened the scoring at 11:54 of the frame, followed just 14 seconds later by Terry Bridgland’s third goal of the season that stunned the Mudcats and appeared to put the Rangers well in command.
But appearances can be deceiving. The Mudcats absorbed the shock, held firm throughout a scoreless second period, and took advantage of a lack of discipline and some ragged play on the Rangers’ part to mount a third-period rally.
“As a team, throughout that 10-minute span, we kind of fell asleep and maybe thought that our 2-0 lead was good enough,” said Burke. “But every player knows that a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey.”
Owen Leduc struck first for the Mudcats when he was left alone in front of the Rangers’ net and managed to slip the puck past Sviergula at 3:50 of the third period. A charging penalty to Glanbrook’s Daniel Vella led to a power-play goal by Dunnville’s Aidan Alfonso at the 6:37 mark and it became clear that the tide had turned in the Mudcats’ favour.
“We started to get unravelled on the bench and started taking penalties,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “We almost ruined a good performance by our goaltender. They (Dunnville) kept chipping away, chipping away. They know how to get under our skin and when you start marching to the penalty box, it’s only a matter of time before it costs you.”
The Mudcats, who outshot Glanbrook 16-10 in the third stanza, appeared to have applied the coup de grace a few minutes after Alfonso’s goal when a scramble around the Rangers net led to the apparent tiebreaker. But after conferring, the officials ruled that Sviergula had inadvertently slid the puck into his net after the play had been whistled dead.
That set things up for the overtime and Burke’s final flourish, which came after the Rangers stole the puck from a Dunnville defender and Burke was sent in alone against Mudcats’ netminder Austin Davison. He outwrestled defender Jack MacDonald and, in a move very similar to his first marker, slipped the puck through Davison’s five-hole to give the Rangers their third victory in four outings.
“Going into the overtime, we knew we had to stay focused and stick to the game plan,” said Burke. “These situations can be very intimidating, but I knew I just had to be myself and play my game … and thankfully, it turned out well.”
NOTES: Burke and Bridgland each contributed three points, Burke with two goals and assist and Bridgland with one goal and two assists … Sviergula turned in a 37-save performance to record his second victory of the campaign … Veterans Sean Golebiowski and Dallas Nadasdi both sat out the contest with suspensions.