NIAGARA FALLS (Oct. 27) — Terry Bridgland had a three-point performance and Cooper Hood contributed two goals to stretch his scoring streak to four games as the Glanbrook Rangers topped the Niagara RiverHawks 6-3. The victory gave the Rangers at least one win against each team in the Bloomfield Division; the RiverHawks defeated the Rangers 3-2 in their only previous meeting this season.
“I think we came out with anger due to the fact that they had beaten us in our house, so it was our turn to do the same to them,” said Bridgland. “The game started out with an abundance of penalties; we made a few mistakes that were costly, but that didn’t stop us from giving everything we had and the next shift we were right back in the game.”
The Rangers, who are tops in the Bloomfield Division in penalty minutes (6th overall in the PJHL), were saddled with three shorthanded situations before the first period was half over. But one of the hallmarks of the Glanbrook team this season has been superb penalty-killing and that again proved to be the case as the Rangers emerged unblemished from those setbacks and managed to finish the period with a 1-0 on a goal by Harrison Farrugia.
In all, the Rangers faced nine RiverHawk powerplays, successfully neutralizing eight of them. Paradoxically, Niagara actually had more penalty minutes than the Rangers (54-48), but Glanbrook only had six powerplay opportunities, scoring on three of them.
“We have guys who are willing to put their body on the line to stop a team from scoring,” said Bridgland. “We don’t have a problem killing penalties; we all know it’s Glanbrook vs. everyone and we’re all on the same page that it takes a lot of hard work from our special teams to keep us in games.”
Secure in the knowledge that they can overcome adversity while shorthanded has the added affect of boosting the team’s determination to play aggressively while at even strength, said Farrugia.
“Of course, you don’t want to be down a man, but knowing our guys are going to go out there and kill two minutes is definitely a relief,” he said. “We’re always going to play aggressively, that’s just Glanbrook hockey. We’ve been scoring goals due to our guys being aggressive.”
The Rangers asserted themselves even more in the second stanza, outscoring the RiverHawks 3-2, with Hood, Ryan Burke and Justin Vermeulen doing the honors (the latter two on powerplays), while Isaac McDonald and Keagan Thomson responded for the hosts. The final frame was more of the same (including the plethora of penalties) as Hood and Bridgland staked the Rangers to an insurmountable lead before Niagara’s Reid Lowe finished out the scoring in the late going.
“We had a slow start to the game, but then our guys really woke up and applied the pressure,” said Farrugia. “Our powerplay really clicked and I’d say we had the game in our hands all night … with a few hiccups. All in all, I think the boys really know how to keep each other up and focused.”
In addition to their penalty-killing prowess, another key factor in the Rangers’ success so far (they’ve won four games straight and 10 of their last 11), has been the fact that they’re getting offensive contributions from the entire lineup. Five separate players contributed goals, while eight total earned a spot on the scoresheet.
“It’s a great feeling when all the guys are producing,” said Bridgland. “It’s comforting to know that we have the depth to dominate all line we face.”
And, of course, behind it all has been solid goaltending from the tandem of Tiago Rocha and Jason Sviergula, who have surrendered a meagre 24 goals in 13 games (again, tops in the Bloomfield Division by a wide margin, and sixth overall in the league). Rocha was on duty against the RiverHawks and responded with 28 saves for his sixth victory (and a touch of payback as he was in net when the Rangers lost to Niagara on Oct. 12).