Cooper Hood (left) celebrates the completion of his hat trick in Glanbrook's 5-4 victory over the Dundas Blues.


GLANBROOK (Nov. 9) — For the Glanbrook Rangers, it was the worst of times and, in the end, it was the best of times.  The worst:  dubious decisions, sloppy execution,  baffling officiating.  The best:  a Cooper Hood hat trick, a continued winning streak (now at a season-high seven games), and the satisfaction of prevailing in a contest where it seemed as if the fates were doing everything in their power to prevent it.

All of that was wrapped up in a messy, junk-heap of a game in which the Rangers, short-staffed and hard-pressed, held on for a 5-4 triumph over the Dundas Blues.  First, the officiating.  It was one of those games where, if you wondered, “what on earth are they going to call next?” you wouldn’t have to wait long for your answer.  Everyone complains about it, but rarely does it have such a definite, detrimental and — almost — decisive influence on the result.

“It’s always a challenge when you are getting the brunt of the calls, good or bad,” said Rangers coach Andrew Tait. “It becomes frustrating and we as a team need to deal with it.  Unfortunately, we have the reputation as one of the most penalized teams in the league.  It’s something we need to fix, because we will not have long-term success carrying on this way.”

Each time the Rangers (who admittedly were not at their sharpest, but more on that later) managed to gain an edge, they’d be hit with a penalty that let the Blues off the hook.   All four Dundas goals came on power-plays as Glanbrook’s penalty killers suffered their worst showing of the season.  And after they had scratched their way to a seemingly insurmountable 5-2 margin late in the third, they were assessed a total of eight penalty minutes over the game’s final 9 1/2 minutes during which  Dundas scored twice to make the tally much closer than it should have been.   Furthermore, the frustration mounted when Rangers’ forward Harrison Farrugia was taken down and suffered what initial reports said was a possible broken arm, with no call.

Ultimately,  Tait was ejected (with 30 seconds remaining) and faces suspension for expressing his displeasure.

But that wasn’t the only spectre haunting the Rangers.  They were without regulars Terry Bridgland and Joshua Lindsay (suspension), along with Ryan Burke, Michael Dittrich and Ethan Doherty (illness).  Several game participants were also battling a bug that swept through the team’s lineup.

“It definitely wasn’t our prettiest win of the season,” said Hood, whose three goals propelled him into the team scoring lead with 13 goals and 14 assists.  “It didn’t help having most of the team dealing with an illness, but we don’t want to use that as an excuse.”

Excuse or no, it clearly had an effect on the Rangers’ play.  The cobbled-together lines took a while to find a rhythm, and the momentum swung back and forth.  Dallas Nadasdi gave the hosts a 1-0 lead (on a Ranger powerplay) at 7:20 of the first, wiped out a minute later by Dundas’s JD McNeil.  Hood’s first put Glanbrook on top again at 16:57, but with 11 seconds remaining in the first frame and a faceoff upcoming in the Dundas zone, Hood was assessed an interference penalty for skating harmlessly through goaltender Austin Strom’s crease after the whistle.   The faceoff shifted to the Rangers’ end and six seconds later the score was tied on a goal by Josiah Van Gurp.

Hood’s second goal — the only tally of the middle frame — re-established the Glanbrook lead, but they soon found themselves shorthanded again.  This time, ironically, it was the Rangers who did the damage with Eric Taylor connecting to give Glanbrook some much-needed space, or so it appeared, a thought that was reinforced when Hood completed his hat trick at 11:02.   But even that proved to be a fond hope.

“It was nice to get an insurance goal late in the game,” said Taylor, whose tally was his first of the season.  “But frankly, we need to be a little more disciplined.  Penalties definitely kept the game close, and we have to improve in that aspect of the game.”

And on they came. Penalties to Tyler Smeda (four minutes at 11:31), Hood (two minutes at 15:31), and Sean Golebiowski (two minutes at 16:52) — oh, and a goal wiped out by the penalty call to Golebiowski — led to Dundas markers from Ryan Clayboune (at 16:04) and Jaden Lo (at 18:39) to set up a tense finish.   However, goaltender Tiago Rocha, who had seemed a little out of sorts at the outset, tightened up for the final 90 seconds to ensure a victory to remember — or forget.

“I think we’d like to put this one behind us, especially the way it ended,” said Hood. “Like I said, we don’t like to make excuses and the mentality is the same every night.  We want to make a statement to this league.  We found a way to win tonight.”

NOTES:  Taylor’s shorthanded goal was the Rangers’ first of the season … The Rangers seven-game win streak is the third longest in the PJHL this year, behind Napanee (14) and Essex (12) … Hood is on a seven-game goal-scoring streak, during which time he’s collected 10 goals … Speaking of streaks, Golebiowski, who received his Bloomfield Division player of the month citation in a pre-game ceremony, is on an 11-game point-scoring streak (13 goals, 11 assists) … Rocha picked up his eighth win in 10 outings … Ethan Cloutier made his return to the Rangers.  Cloutier, who had six goals and six assists in 30 games for Glanbrook last year, had been with Thorold Jr. Bs of the GOJHL.   … Glanbrook has won all three meetings with Dundas, outscoring the Blues 18-8.