GLANBROOK (Nov. 24) — Josh Bourdon of the Dunnville Mudcats scored at 1:08 of overtime to nullify a Glanbrook rally and hand the Rangers’ their fourth straight loss by a 4-3 tally. It was Glanbrook’s first loss of the season to Dunnville, and the fact that they managed to earn at least a point was little consolation as the sixth-place Mudcats climbed to within two points of the Rangers in the Bloomfield Division standings.
Even more demoralizing was that the Rangers dominated most of the contest, with a clear advantage in puck possession time, while outshooting the Mudcats 49-27.
“Right now, that’s the story of our season,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “We play well enough to win, but we make four mistakes and the puck ends up in the back of the net.”
The most glaring error came on the deciding overtime goal, as two Rangers, in a fit of over-eagerness, flew right past a loose puck in their own zone. The Mudcats pounced on the opportunity, and seconds later they were able to jam a rebound past Glanbrook goalie Mitch Robinson.
“The guys saw an opportunity for an odd-man rush and they just overskated the puck,” sighed Tait.
It was an unfortunate end to a game that saw the Rangers fall behind, but turn things around. The teams fought through a scoreless first period in which the Rangers outshot the Mudcats by a commanding 21-5 margin. Mudcats goalie Owen McDonnell, however, made several timely saves to keep things on even terms.
Things took a turn for the worse for the hosts as Dunnville struck in the first minute of the second frame to take the lead as Nate Shirton took advantage of a defensive turnover to put the Mudcats up 1-0 at 0:40. Nick Longo widened that margin just a minute later with his second goal of the season. But Glanbrook’s Joel Wallace took a feed in the slot to finally start Glanbrook on the right track with his fourth goal of the campaign at 2:24.
Dunnville’s 2-1 lead held to the end of the second frame, but Ryan Burke broke free for a breakaway goal, his fourth, just 13 seconds into the third to knot the game 2-2. Burke appeared to administer the coup de grace on Dunnville with his second goal of the game at 18:03.
The Mudcats, however, didn’t give up and with McDonnell on the bench for a sixth attacker, they sent the game into overtime with Tyler Bowen’s goal a mere 53 seconds after Burke’s. Then came Bourdon’s clincher and that was the end of Glanbrook’s hopes. In part, the Rangers again fell victim to the fact that they were short-staffed owing to injuries and illness, something that has plagued them, particularly their defensive corps, throughout their current slump. To make matters worse, they lost three players (including two defencemen) to injuries during this game and had to play the final stages with only four blueliners.
But while Tait said he expects that the team will be “back to 100 per cent healthy by next week,” he added that the Rangers are still lacking a certain quality that would have come in handy in this effort.
“We’re not hungry enough yet. We’re not a team that smells blood,” he said. “We’re not going to the dirty areas of the ice; not scoring the ugly goals. It’s great to get 21 shots in a period, but sometimes that’s just not enough.”