Glanbrook kicked off their weekend with a 3-1 win over the Hagersville Hawks, followed by a 4-3 verdict over the Port Dover Sailors.


PORT DOVER (Feb. 12) — A pair of weekend road wins moved the Glanbrook Rangers farther along the path to a Bloomfield Division title.

On Saturday (Feb. 11), the Rangers topped the Hagersville Hawks 3-1, then followed that up with a 4-3 triumph over the Port Dover Sailors on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 12).   But while gratifying, the wins also reinforced that success isn’t assured.

“I think these games gave us more of a struggle than most,” said Ranger defenceman Tyler Smeda.  “It showed us that teams won’t just roll over for us; they want to win as badly as we do.”

The Rangers are now firmly planted atop their division, holding an eight-point gap on their closest pursuers, the Grimsby Peach Kings, with just six games left for both teams.  Gaining five points from those six matches would clinch the division for the Rangers, which has been the target from the outset, said coach Andrew Tait. 

“We set the goal from Day One one to compete for first in our division,” he said, “so to be in range of that goal really helps the team mentally.”

And in addition to the emotional confidence boost that would come with achieving their goal of Bloomfield supremacy, there are also other practical benefits.

“There is also the opportunity of taking a first-round bye if we finish first,” said Tait.  “And if we do decide to take the bye, it will give some time to rest up and get some of our nagging injuries healed.”

Furthermore, a division clinch would ease the tension somewhat and provide the Rangers with the opportunity to fine-tune aspects of their game that might still need a little attention, or even explore different options.

“It’s never a bad time to try something new, as long as it’s within the guidelines or our group plans,” said Rangers’ captain Sean Golebiowski.  “Being persistent is something we have focused on all year and definitely something we want to bring with us heading into the playoffs.”

It’s perhaps not surprising that the Rangers had a bit more trouble than they might have expected in the weekend contests.  They’re slogging through a particularly challenging part of the schedule with five games spread over just nine days, so a bit of fatigue is to be expected.

“Obviously, with so many consecutive games in such a short period of time, our conditioning can come into question,” said Smeda.  “So it was really important for us to work on our systematic side of the game.”

Golebiowski added that the proper mental approach is another way to deal with the hectic stretch.

“I believe it just comes down to who wants it more and not finding excuses for ourselves to not play like we can,” he said.  “At the end of the day, we don’t know what can happen tomorrow so we just need to play for today.”

In fact, continued Tait, the crush of games, rather than being a handicap, will actually be beneficial to the Rangers’ ultimate goal of a long run towards the Schmalz Cup finals.

“The schedule has been crazy of late, but again, when you are in the playoffs you can be on the ice four or five times a week,” he said. “So this is helping us get prepared for that stretch.

“This is the advantage of us having so much depth on our roster.  If one guy is down, everyone else steps up to fill the void.  We have 23 players that can — and have — played up and down the lineup without a hitch.”

The Rangers will finish out this glut of games in the coming weeks with back-to-back encounters on Wednesday, Feb. 15 against the Niagara RiverHawks (7:30 pm, Glanbrook Arena) and Thursday, Feb. 16 when they visit the Dundas Blues (7:30 pm, J.L. Grightmire Arena.  Then they have a brief respite before entertaining the RiverHawks again on Family Day (Monday, Feb. 20, 4:30 pm, Glanbrook Arena) in a game rescheduled from earlier this season.

Those two games against Niagara have added significance, said Tait.

“We know we have a tough stretch of games coming up,” said Tait.  “We’re playing the team that has beat us twice (Niagara), so we need to keep playing like we have been, if not better.  We cannot take a night off.”

NOTES:  Golebiowski scored twice in the 3-1 win over Hagersville, bringing his season’s goal total to 29.  Chase Johnson added his 16th tally and Jason Sviergula earned the win with a 19-save performance … Cooper Hood (27), Smeda (6),  Terry Bridgland (16) and Eric Taylor (5) were the marksmen against the Sailors, with Sviergula turning aside 37 shots to record his 18th victory.   The Rangers have completed their regular-season complement of games with Port Dover, finishing with a perfect 7-0-0-0 record while outscoring the Sailors 34-14.