NIAGARA FALLS (Dec. 8) — The Glanbrook Rangers are on fire and the spark that has kept them blazing has been Sean Golebiowski. Glanbrook’s captain scored two goals — his 24th and 25th of the season — in a 6-4 triumph over the Niagara RiverHawks as the Rangers rolled to their 14th straight victory and Golebiowski catapulted into the PJHL goal-scoring lead, a position the 21-year-old Binbrook product never imagined he might be in.
“I definitely would not have guessed it a couple of years ago,” he said. “But I’m just glad that we are winning as a team. My only goal for this year is to be hoisting a silver trophy around mid-May. Nothing less, nothing more.”
Golebiowski is in his fourth season with the Rangers and his game has evolved from being mainly a physical presence — not surprising, given his 6-foot-5, 205-pound stature — to becoming a dangerous offensive weapon. After two four-goal seasons, he previewed his offensive development in a truncated 2021-22 season, finishing with 15 goals in 24 games. But this season, he’s rocketed to another level.
“Sean has been playing well for us this season, for sure,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “He has a lot to give to our team. If he stays focused and continues to put the team first, who knows how well he can do. When he is going, the rest of the team follows suit. When he leads by example, we are a far better team.”
Golebiowski has already obliterated his output of last season with 25 goals in 21 games, featuring one four-goal game, two more hat-tricks and six multi-goal games. He’s currently on a frenetic tear with 10 goals in his last five games and a 19-game point scoring streak as the Rangers have emerged as one of the PJHL’s top teams. And all the while, he’s maintained that mixture of menace and agitation (he’s also among the PJHL leaders in penalty minutes with 86) that have made him one of the most notorious and targeted players in the Bloomfield Division.
“I just try to take every game day by day and focus on what I can do and not what I can’t control,” said Golebiowski, whose feats earned him Bloomfield player-of-the-month honours for September/October. “It’s all about the right place and the right time. Looking for hits is not something I’m focusing on too much; but I’ll definitely be physical if the opportunity presents itself.”
While Golebiowski’s exploits have been noteworthy, there’s no doubt that the Rangers’ remarkable success this season has been a total team production. The Rangers boast a powerful and balanced scoring attack, with 10 players who have compiled double-digits in points, solid defence and a goaltending tandem of Tiago Rocha and Jason Sviergula that is among the league’s best. All of which has propelled the Rangers on their current run, the latest installment being their 6-4 victory over Niagara, one of only two teams that have managed to beat Glanbrook this year.
Golebiowski kicked things off for Glanbrook at the 5:46 mark of the first period. Then, after a rebuttal from Niagara’s Keagan Thomson at 12:32, the Rangers set off on a four-goal spree starting with Ryan Burke’s 11th goal of the season at 13:40 of the first period and followed by Eric Taylor at 17:11. Cooper Hood (whose offensive development has traced a similar trajectory to Golebiowski’s) notched his 18th goal at 2:19 of the second and Golebiowski capped off the Rangers’ run with his 25th goal at 16:29.
Zachary Rauzino, late in the second period, and Conor Hough, early in the third stirred thoughts of a rally for the hosts, but Karter Doohan disappointed those hopes with his third goal at 12:28. Reid Lowe’s reply for Niagara with just over two minutes remaining was more or less an afterthought, although the slight relapse did cause Tait a touch of concern as the season winds down to the holiday break.
“I think it’s a bit of fatigue … it’s been a while since we’ve had games on back-to-back nights,” Tait said. “We just need to get our cardio up because come playoff time we can go back-to-back-to-back. I’m happy with the first part of our season. We need to close off this year against Dunnville (on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Glanbrook), and keep on pushing forward.
“We have a target on our backs and have established ourselves as the team to beat. We need to focus on not getting complacent.”
NOTES: Rocha got the win in net for Glanbrook, making 34 saves to boost his record to 11-2 … Niagara was the last team to beat Glanbrook, 3-2 way back on Oct. 12 … The Rangers penalty-killing was once again a key element in the victory. They surrendered one man-advantage goal to the RiverHawks, but that was all, despite being assessed 30 minutes in penalties. Niagara, meanwhile, wasn’t called for a single penalty … Hood, who is sixth in PJHL scoring with 41 points, is on a 17-game point scoring streak.