Cooper Hood leaps to screen Dundas goalie Matt Watson on Brennan Ireland's shot which was the winning goal in Glanbrook's 4-0 victory.


GLANBROOK (Mar. 26) — Brennan Ireland’s power-play goal in the first period proved to be the winner and Mitchell Robinson turned aside all 23 shots he faced as the Glanbrook Rangers scored an authoritative 4-0 win over the Dundas Blues to even their South Bloomfield Division semifinal series at one game apiece.

The Rangers’ victory was a virtual carbon copy (albeit in reverse) of the teams’ first meeting:  an indecisive opening, followed by one team taking a tentative lead, then breaking the game wide open with a flurry of goals to take control as the other side collapsed into indiscipline.   Rebounding from a lacklustre effort in Game 1, the Rangers ramped up the energy in this outing pressuring the vulnerable Dundas defence and forcing errors that, this time, they were able to exploit.

“We knew that this series was going to be a dogfight,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait.  “We’ve just got to be hungrier than they are.  It comes down to who wants it more.”

On this occasion, it was Glanbrook.  Their forecheck overwhelmed the Blues, who struggled and failed to counter, resulting in several power play chances for the Rangers.  Now, in past games that would have been of little help since  the Glanbrook power play was anemic at best.  This time, however, things were different.

“We talked about it after the last game and decided we had to take more shots and get bodies in front to screen the goalie and disrupt his vision,” said Rangers forward Brandon Boyd.  “That’s what we did and it worked out.”

On Ireland’s opening marker, teammate Cooper Hood got in front of Dundas goalie Matt Watson and leapt into the air just as Ireland fired his shot from the point for the first of three man-advantage goals by the Rangers.   The hosts’ penalty-killing unit was equally effective, not only neutralizing all three of Dundas’s power plays, but also generating some dangerous scoring opportunities.   In one instance, Ryan Burke deked Watson into submission, then missed a goal by a hairsbreadth as the puck slid past the far post.

Boyd scored what proved to be the gamebreaker midway into the second frame as he stripped the puck from a Dundas defender at the Glanbrook blueline, then descended on Watson and beat him cleanly on a shot from 10 feet out.

“I wasn’t even thinking when I was going down the ice,” said Boyd, whose decisive goal mirrored a similar circumstance in Game 1 which gave Dundas control.  “The body just took over and I drove in on him … just tunnel vision.”

After that it was all Glanbrook and as Dundas started to feel the frustration and take penalties, the Rangers went to work on the power play.  Before the end of the second period, Tyler Mulholland and Joel Wallace added extra-man tallies to give Glanbrook an insurmountable 4-0 lead.   The Rangers’ power play ended up 3-for-7.

“We made a couple of minor adjustments,” Tait said.  “We knew to be successful we had to communicate more, find open guys and get more traffic in front.”

The third period was uneventful, except for another mini-parade of Dundas penalties and the Blues’ employment of a strange strategy of stationing a forward at the Rangers’ blueline (sometimes even circling in the Rangers’ zone) evidently in the hopes of somehow generating breakaways.  It paid no dividends and virtually the entire period was played in the Blues’ end of the ice.

So, the teams advance to the pivotal Game 3 today, with momentum on the Rangers’ side for now.  And that extra juice might be important since the Rangers have played nine post-season games in 18 days while the Blues have played just two, even though Tait does not see that as a disadvantage.

“We’re battle-tested,” he said. “We’re used to playing at a high intensity level.  Adrenalin can overcome the tiredness and little hurts and bruises.  That’s playoff hockey.”

NOTES:  This was Robinson’s fourth win in five playoff appearances, and his second shutout … Ireland, Mulholland and Sean Golebiowski each had two points for Glanbrook.  Ireland’s goal and assists put him atop the Rangers’ playoff leaderboard with nine points (1 goal, 8 assists) …  Wallace is tops on the team in goals with five.