By Jamie Neugebauer
Zachary Fung cashed in on a perfect passing play at 8:38 of overtime as the North York Rangers edged the St. Michael’s Buzzers 4-3 Sunday afternoon to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first round Southwest Conference series.
The top power play unit found its groove on the day, connecting on two goals in five opportunities.
Afterwards, North York bench boss John Dean was encouraged by his team’s ability to rally and take advantage of its power play opportunities.
“I think today our bounce back was real nice,” he said.
“It was frustrating to need to bounce back the couple times that we did, especially since our special teams have had a tough time all series. But to watch those two [power play] goals go in is probably a relief for a lot of guys, especially since it is very important for us that the power play is clicking.”
Matt Alvaro opened the scoring for the Buzzers with the man advantage at 12:43 of the first period when he snapped a shot from the slot past Jason Pucciarelli, despite the fact that there was an injured North York player behind the play.
John Carpino got his first of two on the day to tie it at 6:43 of the second period when his bank shot on the power play fooled St. Mike’s net minder George Argiropoulos.
CJ Shugart gave the Buzzers back the lead with just under five minutes left in the middle frame, again on the power play, but Patrick Piacentini converted on a man advantage one minute into the third to tie up the score again.
Carpino wired home a beautiful feed from Gabriel Valenzuela just over four minutes later to give North York its first lead of the game, but David Italiano pounded home the game-tying goal at 12:47 to send the game into overtime.
“To watch John Carpino do what he can do best,” added Dean; “to put pucks in the back of the net like he did today was pretty special.”
Fung redirected a beautifully worked give-and-go with Adam Valadao and Matthew Whittaker to seal the win for the hosts.
The Rangers have won all three games in the series by one goal and the last two contests by the identical score lines of 4-3.
North York can complete the sweep on Tuesday night when it travels to St. Mike’s Arena for Game 4, puck drops at 7:30 p.m.