GLANBROOK (Nov. 16) — Sean Golebiowski scored three times and the Glanbrook Rangers matched their highest offensive output of the season in a 9-5 romp over the Niagara Riverhawks as they steamrolled to their 10th consecutive victory.
The high-flying Rangers, who have triumphed in 16 of their last 17 outings, began with an explosive flourish that swamped the Riverhawks and lasted until a bothersome lapse in the final period. But more on that later.
First, the positives, of which there were many in this contest.
Golebiowski’s hat trick, for instance, boosted his team-leading goal total to 18 and lifted him into second spot in the PJHL scoring race with 35 points, just one point behind leaders Caleb Cribbin (Mount Forest Patriots) and Cameron Kokelj (Schomberg Cougars), who are tied with 36. Not to be outdone, linemate Cooper Hood chipped in with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) to match Golebiowski’s point total (15 goals, 20 assists). Meanwhile, Ryan Burke, who centres the Rangers’ incendiary troika, added a goal and two assists for a combined output of 11 points on the night.
“The guys are really buying into our systems and working as a group, rather than as individuals,” said Golebiowski. “Team work makes the dream work.”
The Rangers continued to get “secondary scoring” from their entire lineup as Justin Vermeulen potted a pair of goals, Ethan Doherty netted his second marker of the season, and Chase Johnson added his 10th tally. Over their current run of success, which started after a 3-2 loss to the Riverhawks way back on Oct. 12, the Rangers have averaged 5.5 goals per game, outscoring their opponents by a 55-23 margin.
Apart from just the bare numbers, the Rangers dominated the proceedings from the outset, pressuring the Riverhawks with speed, intense forechecking and effective defensive play, breaking up the few Niagara offensive thrusts with deft stickwork and solid goaltending en route to a 5-0 lead late in the second period. Vermeulen started things off with his seventh goal of the seaon at 5:45 of the first period. Golebiowski scored at 12:07, then again at 2:14 of the second, followed just 12 seconds later by Vermeulen again.
Doherty fired a bullet from the left faceoff circle that handcuffed Niagara goalie Jake Stienschifter at 14:08. And then, things went a little sideways. Not totally, mind you, the Rangers’ pre-eminence was never really threatened. But it was a bit of a blemish on an otherwise celebratory performance.
“I think that we just get a little ahead of ourselves and check out for a couple of minutes and that’s what kills us,” said Golebiowski. “Going forward, I think it’s just an adjustment that will fix itself with time. As the games begin to matter more, the group will be locked in for 60 minutes.”
It started innocently enough, when a little sloppy play in their own end allowed Niagara’s Nick Duguid to ruin the shutout bid for Rangers’ goalie Jason Sviergula with just 15 seconds remaining in the second period. Then, Callum Harvey scored at 7:06 of the third to cut the Rangers’ lead to 5-2. That mirrored a trend from Glanbrook’s previous game when the pesky Port Dover Sailors also started to chip away at a large Ranger lead.
“We maybe started panicking a bit and gave pucks away on easy plays, plays that we made routinely in the first two periods,” said Rangers coach Kevin Miket. “We were trying to force it. But give Niagara credit for not giving up.”
Thereafter, the teams traded goals right down to the last second (literally — Hood scored at 19:59). Johnson, Golebiowski, Burke and Hood did the damage for the Rangers, while Duguid, Hunter Willis and Keagan Thomson replied for Niagara. So, while the Rangers certainly weren’t pleased with surrendering four goals in the third period, at least they were able to retaliate effectively. Although, that’s probably not something they’d like to have to do too often.
“I don’t think the team’s too worried,” said defenceman Dallas Nadasdi. “We know what we need to win, and when it comes down to it, I believe we can execute. I don’t think we’re relying too much on offence, it’s more that we get a lead and kind of sit back. Our offence is there when we need it to be, but I do believe when we need our defensive game to step up, we will.
“It’s a great attitude in the room. The boys are rolling and feeling good. It’s a really tight-knit group and we love playing together. We’re a wagon and we know it.”
NOTES: Sviergula maintained his undefeated record with a 35-save performance. He’s 8-0 on the season with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. The 17-year-old Fonthill native has been selected to participate in the South vs East PJHL Prospect game, a showcase for the league’s young talent. The game was to be played on Saturday, Nov. 19, but has been postponed due to inclement weather. The makeup date is to be announced … Forward Owen Johnston made his debut with the Rangers. The Burlington native played last season with the Collingwood Blues of the OJHL.