DUNDAS (Nov. 24) — The soaring Glanbrook Rangers climbed even higher as they ran their winning streak to 11 games with a gritty 4-1 triumph over the Dundas Blues. The Bloomfield Division-leading Rangers have won an impressive 17 of their last 18 games. The Rangers, in fact, currently have the most points (36) and the most wins (18) in the PJHL.
Their latest effort got off to a bit of a shaky start, however, as the Blues capitalized on some Ranger hesitation to force a turnover and stun the visitors with an early clout as Josh Houston put Dundas up 1-0 a mere 50 seconds after the opening faceoff.
“We were in a bit of a fog,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “They had a big crowd and they came out hard and took the game to us. We got a little careless in our defensive zone. After that, we told the guys just to relax, calm down.”
The advice clearly paid off because after that brief disturbance, the Rangers got down to business and did what they’ve been doing to become one of the hottest teams in the PJHL: assertive physical play, solid goaltending with a touch of brilliance, stifling penalty-killing and authoritative offence. And even though there was still a bit of drama to come, at this point the Rangers took control and never relinquished it.
“We started off chasing the game, instead of sitting back and letting them chase us,” said Tait. “But after that we started to play our game.”
Jack Shedden triggered the about-face for Glanbrook, notching his second goal of the season on a point shot at 7:55 of the first period. Cooper Hood added his 16th with just nine seconds remaining in the opening stanza to send the visitors to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
“Their first goal definitely woke us up, but I don’t think it had a huge effect as there was still a lot of hockey to be played,” said Shedden. “We kept working hard, chipping away at them and we knew one was going to come, and I was the lucky one to put it away.
“After the first goal, our chances just kept flowing and we took all the momentum.”
The second period was scoreless, but not uneventful. Ranger goaltender Tiago Rocha was called upon to preserve the lead when Dundas’s James Almeda was awarded a sketchy penalty shot at 15:44. Rocha stared the shooter down and Almeda’s effort misfired high over the net. The Rangers took another knock when an apparent goal by Hood was disallowed; the referee ruling that the whistle had gone before the puck entered the net.
Encounters between these two teams this season — the Rangers, by the way, boast a perfect 4-0 record against the Blues — have tended to follow a pattern with Glanbrook taking a lead, then Dundas clawing back, usually with the aid of several man-advantage situations.
Although not quite as drastic (past games have been veritable penalty parades), this contest had similiarities. Five times the Rangers were shorthanded, and each time they effectively thwarted any Dundas attacks.
And more important, the Rangers — this time — kept their tempers in check and refused to be goaded into retaliations that might open the door for a Dundas rally.
“Before the game, the coaches told us to stay out of the dirty part and just play our game,” said Shedden. “Not that it wasn’t an emotional game; in every game emotions are all over the place. We just took a different lead going into the battle.”
In fact, it was the Rangers who cashed in on a powerplay, as Sean Golebiowski scored his 19th goal at 5:16 of the third period to give the Rangers some all-important breathing space. From there on, Rocha held the fort, although he got a little adventurous trying to stickhandle behind his own net late in the third period and turned the puck over. But he recovered and made a dazzling glove save to defend the Rangers’ margin.
“I leave goalies alone,” said Tait with a chuckle over Rocha’s adventure. “As long as they keep making saves, I’m happy.”
Eric Bridgwater settled the issue with his fourth goal into an empty net at 19:47. That was Glanbrook’s 100th goal of the season, tops in their division and fourth-highest in the league.
NOTES: Glanbrook’s 11-game win streak is the second-longest current streak (Essex is at 15), and the third-longest this season … Almeda’s penalty shot was the second faced by Rocha this season. He went mano-a-mano with Niagara’s William Mahoney on Oct. 12. Both attempts were unsuccessful. There have been 21 penalty shots in the PJHL this season with only three resulting in goals … Golebiowski and Hood each had two points to remain among the top scorers in the PJHL. Both are tied with 37 points, good for fifth spot, five points behind league leader Jake Weston of the North Middlesex Stars. Golebiowski is second in goals with 19 (Weston has 23).