GLANBROOK (Mar. 30) — The Glanbrook Rangers fell behind early and never managed to get their game back on track as they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Dundas Blues, who knotted the South Bloomfield Division semifinal series at two games apiece.
After J.D. McNeil had put the Blues ahead 1-0 just two minutes into the first period, some inconsistent and unpredictable officiating set the tone for the rest of the contest and as the frustration mounted, the Rangers’ game plan collapsed. In their previous two games (both decisive victories), the Rangers had employed a successful formula of hard forechecking to force the Dundas defence into committing errors and infractions. On this occasion, however, the pressure was there, but the calls weren’t with the result that the Rangers lost their focus.
“We 100 per cent completely got off our systems and let our frustrations take over,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “We started playing selfish hockey.”
The harder they tried, it seemed, the less effective the Rangers became. In the scramble to get back in the game — after the Blues had taken a 3-1 lead on goals by John Michael Milinkovic and Riley Zimmerman early in the second period — Glanbrook’s execution got sketchier. The more they pressed, the more they struggled. They had a few threatening opportunities, mostly solo efforts, and rang the puck off the post a couple of times, but never managed to recapture the sustained effort that proved so fruitful in Games 2 and 3.
“Our second period was just terrible,” Tait said as the Rangers managed just five shots. “In the third, we worked hard to try to make a game of it, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Now it’s a best 2-of-3 series and we’ll just have to play accordingly.”
Game 5 goes tonight in Dundas, 7:30 p.m. at Market Street Arena, with Game 6 back in Glanbrook on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
NOTES: Cooper Hood, who scored his fifth goal of the post-season in this game, will likely miss the next match with a suspension. He received a major penalty for cross-checking at 19:42 of the third period … Brennan Ireland collected his 11th assist of the playoffs on Hood’s goal … Glanbrook was 1-for-4 on the power play while Dundas was 0-for-6 … Mitchell Robinson took the loss in goal for Glanbrook, just his second defeat in seven playoff starts.