By Jamie Neugebauer, Staff Writer
The 18 year-old goaltender that North York acquired on Oct. 25 had his best game as a Ranger on Wednesday night as he shut the door on the Jr. Canadiens, backing the blue shirts to a 3-1 victory.
After the game head coach John Dean agreed.
“Yeah ‘Pooch’ was awesome,” he said.
“I thought the first two games were not his best, but I think he’s comfortable now after a week of practice and he played a great game like we expect him to.”
Liam Kerins got the scoring started for North York 7:47 into the first when he fired home a centring feed from a hard-charging Taylor Pryce.
Kerins then made Michael Giacometti the beneficiary of a similar play after the Caledon native dangled two Canadiens defenders, and then slipped the puck into the middle for the defender joining the rush.
Toronto’s game plan was clearly to ramp up the pressure and be physical on the forecheck, and the ploy might have worked were it not for improved composure on the part of the Rangers’ puck movement, and some very steady goaltending.
Yet Dean is not satisfied.
“I think we were average,” he said regarding how his team handled the level of physicality.
“It’s something we’re working on in practice right now, but until you’re out there and have two guys barreling in on you, it’s tough to simulate.”
Giacometti scored his second of the game 1:03 into the second when his point shot evaded Toronto net-minder Denny Dubblestyne.
It was the first two-goal game of the Mississauga native’s career.
Danny Liscio banged one home at the 2:13 mark of the third period, but Pucciarelli and company held on for the 3-1 win.
Despite the fact that the Rangers entered the game far above the Canadians in the standings, Dean and his squad never took them lightly.
“Anybody we play is going to give us a real tough battle,” he said.
“Any team in this league could win on any night, I don’t care what the standings are. We came in to work our butts off, the Jr. Canadiens worked hard, and it was a close game.”
The Rangers will now travel to Etobicoke on Saturday to take on the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots before returning home the next afternoon to host the Milton Red Hawks.