By Jamie Neugebauer
Michael Morgan scored the winner in overtime as the North York Rangers (9-9) downed the Aurora Tigers (13-4) 5-4 on Wednesday evening.
It was Morgan’s second goal of the contest as he poked the puck past the Aurora centreman off the faceoff, and then wristed home from close range at the 1-minute mark of the extra frame.
The hard-earned victory snapped the Tigers’ streak of 11-straight wins, and extended North York’s streak to four victories in a row.
“It feels great,” Rangers’ head coach Mark Joslin said post-game.
“Earlier on in the year we were finding ways to lose those one-goal games, and we’ve lost five of them on the year, but now we’re finding ways to win them and that makes all the difference.”
Morgan opened the scoring at the 6:34 mark of the first period by converting a two-on-one rush with a quick wrist shot in tight.
Nicholas Erb tied it for the visitors at just under 40 seconds later, but Ryan Takamatsu gave the Rangers the lead heading into the first intermission when his backhand beat Aurora goaltender Andy Munroe clean at 10:02.
Matthew Whittaker one-timed a well-worked power play marker from the left circle 3:50 into the second period, but Johnny Curran’s shorthanded goal off a two-on-one at the 14:11-mark of the middle frame gave the Tigers life.
Jordan DaSilva’s blast 5:08 into the third tied it once again, and then when Erb whipped a long distance wrister at 10:20 over the blocking arm of Rangers’ net minder Gianluca Baggetta. It appeared as though Aurora’s streak would remain in tact.
Yet the Rangers kept competing, and a well drawn up set play with less than two minutes remaining in regulation yielded a rebound to Will Reilly and the North York rookie made no mistake to send the contest into overtime.
“The third period we went down,” Joslin said, “and not one of our guys on the bench hung their head or felt that we couldn’t come back. We fought back and I am so proud of the guys.”
Another big positive on the evening was the turn from injury of veteran forward Zachary Fung. He looks to be a key fixture in the Rangers Top-6 forward group from here on out.
“I thought he was fine,” Joslin said of Fung’s first game back.
“He kept simple, didn’t try to do too much and he makes our power play much better. He is a welcome addition back and we look forward to getting him back in shape.”
The Rangers are back in action Friday night when they travel to Wellington to battle the Dukes. Puck drops at 7:30 pm.