With a brand new North York Rangers season just around the corner, and belief and passion oozing from every pore of every young man donning the red, white and blue jersey, I can’t help but be extremely excited for the year to come.
Lots of ups and downs are sure to come (hopefully far more ups), but there are some things that are almost certain to happen this new OJHL season for the boys in blue.
So without further ado, here are the Top 10 things to look forward to for the 2013-14 North York Rangers campaign.
10. Pooooch: When the Rangers’ starting goaltender is announced, do not mistake the sound the bench makes as booing. They are saying “pooooch” – as in Jason Pucciarelli. The Newmarket native is a veteran and among the league’s elite, so the Rangers expect him to be as rock solid as any net minder in the nation this year.
9: Carpino’s head: Yes, John Carpino is one of Canadian Tier II Junior A hockey’s premiere talents, but he also has another talent – looking very similar to future National Hockey League Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr…at least from behind. That probably doesn’t help him too much, but I don’t see how it hurts either.
8: Simmer dady: Patty Simmonds may not be big in stature, but watching the way he leaves everything he has on the ice on every single shift he gets out there is an absolute pleasure. He’s a great face-off man, an elite penalty killer, and he also grows some very solid, early ‘90s era hair.
7. Herb dogs: The hot dogs at our home rink of the Herb Carnegie Centennial Arena are really really good…the only thing better than watching great NYR hockey, is watching great NYR hockey with a great hot dog.
6. Liam Kerins’ howitzer: Yes I know this hasn’t been measured, but I’d really put his shot against anybody in Canadian junior hockey, period (including the Canadian Hockey League). If he has time to wind up, you should probably either get out of the way or hope it hits a really fleshy part of your body. What a rocket.
5. Dean’s colourful language: The Rangers’ head coach, John Dean, makes no secret that he wears his emotions on his sleeve and the way he expresses that passion is as colourful as anybody in the league. There is a new rule about ‘colourful’ language behind the bench, so watching him try to co-exist with that directive will likely be an enjoyable activity.
4. Jaco’s facial hair: Mike Giacometti led all defencemen in goal scoring for most of last season, but what he definitely was dominant in all campaign was growing absolutely elite level ginger facial hair. Referred to by some (actually, just me) as “the Ginger Goat”, Giacometti has improved his game every year to the point that he was an all star last season, so look for that forward momentum to continue in 2013-14. Also, his mom can really sing.
3. Patty P and the Beast from the East: One of the best defence pairings in the playoffs last season was that of Patrick Piacentini and Brody Power. Neither of them are huge guys, but watching them dominate much bigger forwards with intelligence and underrated physicality is tremendously enjoyable; you have to know that Dean can relax when Nos. 2 and 5 are out there. By the way, the ‘Beast from the East’ refers to Power’s Nova Scotian origins.
2. The new guys: General manager Claude Desjardins, along with Dean, worked hard this off-season adding to the already strong corps of the team and succeeded by adding elite scorers in Anthony Latina and Gabriel Valenzuela, and a veteran, steady defenceman in Alex Leader. Both of these guys already understand the tenacity and passion that is demanded of a Rangers player, and look to be great fits for the club.