PORT DOVER (Oct. 9) — The Glanbrook Rangers captured a pair of road wins on the weekend to extend their winning streak to six games and climb into sole possession of first place in the Bloomfield Division. On Saturday, the Rangers topped the Hagersville Hawks 7-1, followed closely (literally, the games were a mere 16 hours apart) by a 3-2 triumph over the Port Dover Sailors.
“It was a quick turnaround, for sure,” said Rangers’ defenceman Daniel Vella. “But you just have to mentally prepare yourself … proper rest and fluids the night before for the next game. But we don’t have a different approach. It’s just another game so you go into it with the same mindset. Just keeping it simple works best.”
That strategy played out — not without a little drama — in the Port Dover contest where the Rangers kept things tight, probing for an opportunity, which finally came early in the second frame when Cooper Hood slipped a pass through the Sailors’ crease to Ryan Burke, who connected for his fifth goal of the season at 1:59. Port Dover’s Max Jolley knotted things up at 5:34, but Rangers’ captain Sean Golebiowski immediately put Glanbrook ahead again with a breakaway goal just 17 seconds later.
Hood added his third marker of the year at 3:35 to give Glanbrook a bit of breathing room. But just to make things interesting, Sailors’ speedster Gavyn Buch scored on an end-to-end rush to make it 3-2 with just over 10 minutes to go. That knocked the Rangers back on their heels a bit and the Sailors tried to exploit that momentary sag with long passes that made the clearly tiring Rangers skate much more than they probably would have liked.
“They were trying to sneak guys in behind our defence, to help ease the pressure in their zone,” said Rangers’ coach Andrew Tait. “We knew they’re the kind of team that wasn’t going to stop. They were trying to stretch our D back to open up the ice a bit more. We just had to make sure that no one got behind us and when it got in our zone, just keep knocking pucks up the middle, trying to limit their opportunities.”
A Port Dover penalty with just over four minutes to go gave the Rangers a bit of a respite, and Terry Bridgland almost administered the coup de grace on the power-play, but his shot from the right wing rang off the goalpost. For the final two minutes, the Rangers held, but a slight mixup sent Buch in on a break as the seconds ticked down. He fired a clanger with just two ticks on the clock that had some Sailors celebrating what they thought was the tying goal. But it was another post and the puck ricocheted harmlessly away as time expired and goalie Jason Sviergula and his Ranger teammates hugged the goalpost in thanks … and relief.
“The second goal was a little deflating for us,” said Vella. “But I had no doubt about us being able to close out the game. We’ve been battling all year and have been having a great amount of success as a group. We never wavered. We just kept playing our game and came out with the win.”
That group effort was conspicuous in the Hagersville contest on Saturday when seven Ranger players scored in the romp over the Hawks. Vella, Karter Doohan, Michael Dittrich, Harrison Farrugia, Chase Johnson, Ethan Doherty and Ty Crombie did the damage for Glanbrook. For Doohan, Dittrich and Doherty, it was their first goal of the season, and another example of the Rangers’ ability this year to get offensive contributions from the entire lineup.
“Getting scoring from everyone is really, really big,” said Vella, who leads Glanbrook defencemen with four tallies. “It helps a lot. It means everyone’s working hard and being rewarded. It’s awesome to see that because when that happens, our team plays with more swagger and that’s what we want. It gets everyone feeling like they’re involved, which is great.”
While the enhanced offensive achievement grabs the most attention, the Rangers’ defensive effectiveness has been equally impressive. In eight outings so far, the Rangers have surrendered a mere 15 goals, tops in the Bloomfield Division, with the netminding tandem of Sviergula and Tiago Rocha posting goals-against averages of 1.73 and 2.01 respectively. Defence and offence (Glanbrook also leads the division with 39 goals scored) have been a one-two punch that has lifted the Rangers to the division’s summit.
NOTES: Rocha made 31 saves against Hagersville to record his third victory, while Sviergula stopped 32 Port Dover shots to collect his fourth win.