DUNNVILLE (Jan. 13) — Terry Bridgland and Daniel Vella scored two goals apiece as the Glanbrook Rangers got back on the winning track with a 7-1 triumph over the Dunnville Mudcats. In their previous outing, the Rangers had seen their 16-game winning streak come to an end in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Grimsby Peach Kings. However, the Rangers streak of no losses in regulation was extended to 18 games. Glanbrook hasn’t lost a game in regulation time since Oct. 12.
Their fifth encounter with the Mudcats this season started out at a fast pace, with the Rangers holding a clear early advantage in puck possession and offensive zone time but failing to turn that into a positive result. Until, that is, the 15:36 mark of the opening stanza when Glanbrook’s Ryan Burke and Owen Johnston capitalized on a neutral zone turnover to coast in on a 2-on-0 breakaway with Johnston converting Burke’s pass for his third goal of the campaign and a 1-0 lead.
Bridgland followed at 17:14 with his eighth goal on a shot from near the blueline that handcuffed Mudcat goaltender Owen McDonnell.
“It’s always important to get the first goal, gain the momentum and run with it,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “It was 0-0 for a long time, but I thought we controlled the play. We kept them to very limited time in our zone.”
The shots on goal bore that fact out with the Rangers assailing McDonnell with 14 shots in the first period and the Mudcats retaliating with just eight of their own, and none of those was particularly dangerous.
Now, clashes between these two rivals have sometimes seemed like a recurring dream, or a rerun of the movie Groundhog Day. Scene 1 is usually Glanbrook taking an early lead. Scene 2 sees Dunnville try to turn up the irritant factor in a bid to get the Rangers to bite and take retaliation penalties, hopefully giving the Mudcats the chance to take advantage of power-plays to get back in the game in the Scene 3.
That’s pretty much how this plot started to play out as well. But the Rangers wisely exercised restraint and, in fact, their failure to provoke a response actually worked against the Mudcats, whose frustration mounted. Oh, both teams got penalties — a bunch of them in the second period — but there were plenty of other times that the Rangers could have put themselves in peril, but chose to turn the other cheek. Dunnville didn’t get any power-plays until very late in the second period.
Meanwhile, the Rangers scored three unanswered goals in the middle stanza: Vella got his sixth, Burke collected his 13th and Ranger newcomer Jackson Gruber earned his first goal in his first appearance. Vella and Bridgland completed Glanbrook’s tally in the third. Of note was the fact that four of the Glanbrook goals came on power plays, further illustrating the effectiveness of the Rangers’ discipline.
“We did a very good job of staying out of the nonsense,” said Tait. “(Sean) Golebiowski in particular led by good example. He’s got a pretty big target on his back, but several times he skated away from the b.s.”
The latter stages of the final frame were essentially what Tait referred to as “pond hockey-ish,” as the Rangers focused mainly on protecting their lead and the Mudcats were pretty much out of gas, anyway, although they did manage to spoil Ranger goalie Jason Sviergula’s shutout bid with a goal by Zane Gilmore at the 13:40 mark. The Rangers continued to pummel McDonnell with shots (19 in the third period; 49 in all), but the priority was clearly defence.
“We told them to take care of our zone first,” said Tait. “And we had guys like (defencemen Josh) Lindsay blocking shot after shot, that set the tone for the rest of our guys playing in our zone.
“On the whole, I really liked our creativity,” Tait continued. “We moved the puck well into open spaces in the offensive zone. We did a lot of good things with our possession time.”
NOTES: Golebiowski’s consecutive game point streak kept on rolling; it’s now at 23 games … Sviergula earned his 12th victory of the season. He has not lost a game … Gruber, who joined the team this week from the Hamilton Kilty Bs, also picked up an assist for a two-point debut … Forward Cooper Hood and defenceman Jack Shedden each had two assists for the Rangers … Hood is tied for the PJHL lead in game-winning goals with seven … Sviergula is seventh in the league with a 1.91 goals-against average. Tiago Rocha, the other member of Glanbrook’s goaltending tandem, is 10th at 2.07 … The Rangers have a 5-0 record against Dunnville this season, outscoring the Mudcats 23-4 over that span.