GLANBROOK (Feb. 8) — It was one of those games that you hope will end soon, but your greatest fear is that your wish won’t be granted; a tiresome taunt-grab-and-hack-fest where it seemed that loitering about while the referees sorted out penalties was served up in equal proportion to actual hockey being played. But we’ll get to that later.
First, the nuts and bolts: the Glanbrook Rangers defeated the Dunnville Mudcats 6-1 … ’nuff said.
“You never like to be in games like that,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait, “and you never know when they’re going to happen. But it’s good to be on the right side when they’re over.”
It was a docket of delinquency that you’d need an extended scoresheet, a rule book and maybe even a legal advisor to figure out: stick-swinging, facemask-grabbing, intent to injure, kneeing, head-banging (and not the musical kind), punished by an assortment of misconducts, gross misconducts, match penalties to go with the usual rap sheet of misdemeanors.
Strange, it all started out placidly enough, with only a couple of routine infractions early on. The Rangers, who have beaten the Mudcats in all six of their encounters this year, held the early advantage, but the mechanics were not in top form, and both teams struggled with execution to varying degrees. The Rangers, however, did manage a few moderate scoring chances against Dunnville goalie Austin Davison.
Ryan Reaves provided the breakthrough, scoring his second goal of the season on a shot from the point at 8:43, and Ryan Burke and Justin Vermeulen followed up with goals at 10:14 and 13:26 respectively. Subsequently, the Rangers survived a two-man disadvantage in the period’s waning moments, then replicated that feat early in the second frame. But there were omens that trouble lay on the horizon, thanks mainly to incessant “chirping.”
Tensions boiled over at the midway mark of the period, with the most extreme incident occurring when Ranger forward Terry Bridgland was knocked to the ice in front of the Mudcats’ net and cross-checked while prone by Dunnville’s David Palmer, who then slashed Bridgland in the head after the latter had risen from the deck. That incident escalated into a general skirmish, while Palmer was assessed an intent to injure penalty and ejected.
“It’s tough. You want to preach discipline, you want to preach staying out of that stuff,” said Tait. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to protect yourself and you’ve got to defend your teammates.”
Maybe even more concerning is that these are not the kind of things the Rangers want to get involved in as a team that entertains hopes for a division title and perhaps an extended playoff run, said Tait.
“We can’t be risking injuries and we can’t be risking long-term suspensions … and for what? For this kind of stuff? It’s frustrating,” he said.
Anyway, after everything was finally sorted out (no mean feat), Burke connected for his second goal on the power play. Cooper Hood added his 26th goal of the season early in the third period and Sean Golebiowski contributed his 27th just past the midway mark, while Dunnville’s Arlen O’Neill spoiled Jason Sviergula’s shutout bid with a goal sandwiched in between the Ranger markers.
But it scarcely mattered as the game was long decided and any coherent flow had seeped out of the proceedings. With all the penalties and ejections, it even became a challenge just to cobble together a lineup.
“You have to start mixing and matching,” said Tait. “It’s hard to keep everyone in the game and try to see that they’re all getting their ice time and staying focused. It’s easy to get unhinged in games like this.”
NOTES: Sviergula made 23 saves to earn his 16th victory, while making his seventh consecutive start in the absence of netminding partner Tiago Rocha, who is recovering from a lower-body injury. … Rangers’ forward Jackson Gruber will also be sidelined for an extended period with a lower-body injury … Defenceman Tyler Mulholland will likely sit out the Rangers’ next game with a suspension resulting from the second-period scuffle … The Rangers have a 6-0 record against Dunnville, outscoring the Mudcats 29-5 … Golebiowski’s goal was his first in five games. He leads the team in goals with 27 and points with 57.
, mainly in the form of the time-honored hockey habit of “chirping,” accompanied by
8:43 GLA Ryan REEVES (2) ASST: Justin VERMEULEN (19), Dallas NADASDI (21)
10:14 GLA Ryan BURKE (14) ASST: Tyler MULHOLLAND (2), Owen JOHNSTON (4)
13:26 GLA Justin VERMEULEN (12) ASST: Ty CROMBIE (16), Eric BRIDGWATER (14)
10:37 GLA Ryan BURKE (15) ASST: Owen JOHNSTON (5), Dallas NADASDI (22) (PP)
9:20 GLA Cooper HOOD (26) ASST: Terry BRIDGLAND (20), Sean GOLEBIOWSKI (30) (PP)
11:48 DUNN Arlen O’Neill (2) ASST: Dylan Stroud (15), Owen Leduc (3)
12:29 GLA Sean GOLEBIOWSKI (27) ASST: Terry BRIDGLAND (21), Daniel VELLA (13)