By Jamie Neugebauer
It has taken some time, but the fire has arrived in the bellies of the North York Rangers.
The club took a big step forward Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 shootout win over the Oakville, earning the season’s first victory in the skills competition in four tries with magnificent goals by Corey Kalk and John Carpino.
After the game, North York bench boss John Dean could not hide his enthusiasm.
“This was the best we’ve played five-on-five all year,” he said.
“The boys figured out that shootouts and overtimes are not to be feared, but simply an opportunity to do something exciting and Kalky, Carps and Jason Pucciarelli (who was in goal) seized that moment today.”
Kalk got the scoring going at 10:35 of the second period when he deflected in an Alex Leader shot-pass from the left half wall.
Ross Sloan evened proceedings up for the Blades less than two minutes later when he banged in a Kamil Tkaczuk centring pass and then Dalton Bew converted on a breakaway to put Oakville ahead at 17:07 of the middle frame.
Zachary Fung tied it up only nine seconds later when he fired home a feed from Gabriel Valenzuela and Liam Kerins gave the Rangers their first lead of the game with under five minutes left in regulation, beating Blades’ goaltender Mark Manolescu one-on-one in tight while shorthanded.
Greg Campbell finished off the scoring when he tied the game with less than two minutes to go with a one-timer off of a pass from Marcel Fatovic.
Kalk pulled off a highlight reel move with his first shot of the shootout, faking forehand and pulling it all the way in front of Manolescu to finish with a one-handed backhand.
John Carpino atoned for a missed penalty shot in-game by using his quick hands to freeze Manolescu before burying a snapshot bar-down to give the Rangers the win.
“This is huge for our confidence,” Dean said, “guys are buying in and I could just feel the determination on the bench in guys that it hasn’t been there too much so far this season. I’m also so thrilled for Pooch to prove how good of a goalie that he really is by shutting the door like he did.”
The Rangers are next in action Saturday night when they travel to Georgetown to take on the Raiders, puck drops at 7:30 p.m.