By Steven Ellis
The North York Rangers are the first OJHL team to advance to the second-round of the playoffs after sweeping the Buffalo Jr. Sabres with a 7-2 victory on the road on Monday evening.
With four straight wins to eliminate the Sabres, North York will wait to find out their next playoff opponent, with the winner of the Georgetown/St. Michael’s series moving on.
Scoring first was a big goal for the Rangers, who have gone 31-1-1-2 when scoring first this year, including all three playoff contests. The Rangers had two goals waved off in the opening period, with both Nick Leshuk and Noah Jordan getting denied for various reasons. But that wouldn’t stop the team from scoring first, with Grayden Gottschalk putting the Rangers up by a goal at 14:00 on the power play after Dante Fantauzzi’s shot was stopped by Brian George, only to have Gottschalk pick up the disk on the rebound on the doorstep to make it 1-0 on the road.
The second period was a big one for the Rangers, who improved their lead to 5-1 after 40 minutes of play. A game misconduct to Colton McKenna saw North York grab a power play for five minutes, only to have Ross Krieger score twice. First, at 2:18, Krieger found the open net standing all alone, taking Jordan’s pass to make it 2-0. Shortly after, Krieger scored an almost identical goal, this time finishing off a passing play between Jordan and Fedor Rudakov to make it 3-0.
Matt Jakubowski would score one for Buffalo to give them a bit of life, but not before the Rangers scored on back-to-back plays. At 13:55, Peter Muzyka scored his career playoff goal after a screen in front prevented George from seeing the puck, restoring North York’s three-goal advantage. Then, a minute after, Ryan Radisa scored the first playoff goal of his career, giving the Rangers the 5-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
The Rangers weren’t done. With Jeremy Forman in net for Buffalo, Gottschalk would score his second of the night and Nick Campoli would tally one himself to make it 7-1. Bryan Zurowski would score one late in the game to give Buffalo their second goal, but it wouldn’t matter as North York would hold on for the 7-2 victory to clinch the series.
Photo from Steven Ellis/North York Rangers