The first win was not as pretty as the second, but as the old cliché goes: ‘they don’t ask how, they ask how many.’
The answer to that question is four, as in the amount of points the Rangers picked up at Ontario Junior Hockey League’s first ever Winter Showcase this past Tuesday and Wednesday in Trenton, with wins over the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Buffalo Jr. Sabres, respectively.
“Playing a few games like we did last weekend against Burlington and Georgetown, but not getting any results was tough,” said North York head coach Geoff Schomogyi.
“But coming in here and getting these four points was a good reward, and for us it’s all about continuing to work, continuing to stick to the process, and to keep trying to get better. That’s all we can do.”
A hard-fought 2-0 win Tuesday afternoon over the Toronto Jr. Canadiens saw rookie goaltender Jett Alexander make 37 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
JRC was one point behind fifth-place North York entering the game, but a deflection by Joseph Mizzi at 3:40, and a long screened wrister by Ross Krieger at 7:23, both of the opening frame, was all the scoring the contest would see.
An Alexander pad stop on a Jake Joffe breakaway in the third was the best chance for the Canadiens, and the ex-NYR midget (and Telus Cup champion) goaltender was deservedly named the player of the game.
Wednesday’s contest, a 6-2 victory over the eighth-placed Buffalo Jr. Sabres, was a far more complete effort by the Rangers.
Behind the brilliant efforts of veterans Noah Robinson and Shawn Tessier, North York was able to overcome the absence of top-line centreman Nick Campoli – who was away at the CJHL Top Prospects Game.
Krieger’s third goal in four games opened the scoring at the 3:52-mark, and then after Ture Linden potted his team-leading 23rd of the season at 18:13, it took Kyle Clarke just over a minute to perfectly deflect home a wicked Adam Giacomin point blast to put North York up three after one period.
Buffalo’s Jared Murray sniped the Rangers’ first goal against of the showcase at 13:32 of the second period to make it a game again, but Mizzi’s perfectly aimed one-timer from the point on the power play on a sweet feed from Tessier at 19:17 regained the three-goal advantage for North York.
Robinson was rewarded with two workmanlike markers in the third, sandwiched between an Erik Urbank response for the Jr. Sabres, and a thunderous check by Ranger forward Ethan Wiseman that dislodged a pane of glass in the corner.
Tessier equaled his season high with three assists on the game, while the two-goal effort was Robinson’s first of the campaign.
Yet as is so often the case, winning in hockey is virtually impossible without strong team defence; and Ranger bench boss Schomogyi had to be happy with the two goals against over the two games.
“I think the guys played well in front of both goaltenders the last couple of days,” he said, noting that Jeremie Lintner was also excellent in making 27 stops against Buffalo on the Wednesday.
“It is good to have two goalies you can really rely on and we really feel like both goalies give us a chance to win every game we’re in; that is all you can ask as a coach.”
North York finished the showcase with 46 points on the year, only four points out of fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers are back in action Saturday evening when they travel to Westwood Arena to take on the Toronto Patriots; puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Story by Jamie Neugebauer
Image by OJHL Images