By Jamie Neugebauer
Max Novick led the way with a goal and an assist and Nick Zanette bagged the winner at 12:20 of the first period as the North York Rangers downed their old rivals the St. Michael’s Buzzers 4-1 on Friday.
Gianluca Baggetta was solid in making 28 saves for his 12th victory of the season.
North York bench boss Mark Joslin was thrilled with the effort his club, especially considering the injuries and illnesses floating through the team.
“Yeah we are missing some guys,” Joslin said, “but despite missing a whole bunch of guys the players didn’t use that as an excuse and came out and competed hard. We did some silly things along way after we got up three, but overall I loved the compete level and the way our guys battled.”
Novick opened the scoring a mere 43 seconds into the contest when he one-timed home a rebound off the back of Buzzers’ net minder George Argiropoulos for his first career OJHL goal.
“I thought Max was very good today,” Joslin said, “and his first goal was long overdue.
“He’s had lots of chances and he has worked hard, so he certainly deserved that. The monkey is off his back and hopefully that helps his inner confidence grow and he just keeps rolling with it.”
Zanette backhanded in a goal-mouth scramble over 10 minutes later, and then Jeremy Szabo made it three by blasting home a loose puck on a five-on-three advantage at the 14:43-mark of the opening frame.
The Buzzers outworked the Rangers in the second, but only got rewarded once when Thomas Berretta cashed in on a strange bounce off the back wall behind Baggetta at 1:43.
Yet Beggetta, the second year goaltender, held the fort the rest of the way.
“It is funny, Gianluca didn’t have a good practice earlier this week,” Joslin said.
“He was ready to go tonight though, we could tell he was focused before the warm-up and he has won us a couple hockey games this year. This is one where he was certainly key.
Zach Fung banged the puck into the empty net with 1:06 left on the clock in regulation.
The victory snapped a two-game skid and moved North York into sole possession of third place in the South Division, three points behind the Oakville Blades.
North York is next in action Sunday evening at 8 p.m. when it hosts the Wellington Dukes at the Herb Carnegie Centennial Arena.