Christian Stevens's third-period power-play goal wasn't enough to spark a comeback as the Rangers lost 3-1 to Grimsby.


GLANBROOK (Apr. 10) — The Glanbrook Rangers lost consecutive games for the first time in the post-season as they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Grimsby Peach Kings, who in the process knotted the South Bloomfield Division Final series at two games apiece.

“You never want to lose any games, but we’re not going to push the panic button yet,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait.  “We will definitely have to change things up, though.  We have to start the next game like we finished this one.”

Tait was referring to the fact that the Rangers never really got untracked in Game 4.  Things that had worked well for them in past successes were either ineffective or absent.  In the first two games against Grimsby, the Rangers forechecking was forceful and it kept the Peach Kings hemmed in their defensive zone and produced errors and scoring opportunities.  This time, it was uninspired and allowed Grimsby defenders far too much room to manoeuvre.

In fact, the Peach Kings stole a page from the Rangers’ playbook,  applying pressure that led directly to their first two goals which were abrupt and damaging.  Maxime Pleau intercepted a clearing attempt at the Rangers blueline, gave the slip to a Glanbrook defender and threaded a shot past goaltender Mitch Robinson at 18:17.  Then, just 47 seconds later, a turnover behind the Glanbrook net let Freddy Teeple barge through the crease and take several whacks before jamming the puck in for a 2-0 lead.

“We seemed to be playing without urgency, without focus,” said Tait.  “We made mental errors in all three zones and that gave them opportunities that they capitalized on.”

Christian Stevens’s power-play goal at 9:46 of the third period seemed to invigorate the Rangers and their play improved over the next eight minutes or so. But those fatal mental lapses surfaced again to extinguish any hopes they had of a climactic effort to tie the game as they had in Game 3 (which they subsequently lost in overtime).

As they drove for the equalizer, the Rangers forced an icing and a faceoff in the Peach Kings’ zone.  But the Rangers, who had pulled the goalie for an extra attacker, lost the draw, and as Teeple controlled the puck through the circle, he coerced the Rangers into taking a hooking penalty that nullified their man-advantage.

Then, just moments later, the Rangers dumped  the puck deep into the Peach King zone, but instead of charging in after it, they inexplicably fell back into a defensive posture as if they were protecting a lead.  That left the Peach King defenders ample room to bring the puck up ice unmolested and Blake Venneri fired it into the unguarded Rangers’ net.

“We gave them that empty-net goal,” said Tait.  “That was clearly a mental error. We just sat back and let them bring the puck out.  And that’s what we’ve done in the last two games, let them dictate the play rather than taking the play to them as we did in the first two games.

“We said right at the beginning that this was going to be a tough, tight series and the winner would be the team that wanted it more.  We’ll just have to show up ready to play in our next game.”

NOTES:   Sean Golebiowski’s assist on Stevens’s third goal of the playoffs lifted his points total to 18 (10 goals, 8 assists), good for ninth spot in the playoff scoring race … Brennan Ireland recorded his 15th assist, which ties him for third-best in the playoffs.