By Jamie Neugebauer
There is winning ugly, and then there is what the Rangers did on Sunday afternoon.
North York (8-9) outshot the Milton IceHawks (4-11-0-1) 40-25, and had 14 power-play opportunities but only came away with a 3-2 win.
Afterward, Rangers bench boss Mark Joslin was far from impressed with what he saw from his club.
“Well, we got two points,” he said, almost at a loss for words.
“Sometimes you have to win ugly but I know I have played in games like that before. It’s tough to stay focused when the other team is being wildly undisciplined and running around a little bit, in my opinion. We have to get back to the drawing board, get back to systems and we certainly have to work on the power play.”
Kyle Clarke opened the scoring 12:05 into the game by pouncing on a rebound from a Gabriel Valenzuela shot in tight, and then when Will Reilly blasted one home from the point on the power play over four minutes later, it appeared as though the game would be a rout.
It was not to be, and the North York frustration mounted 5:54 into the second when, despite being badly outshot, Milton got a goal back through a long slap shot from Kevin Fitzpatrick.
Reilly stabilized the Rangers’ ship a bit at the 11:07-mark of the middle frame with another rocket from the point, but Milton’s wild indiscipline, mixed with North York’s inability to find any rhythm on the power play, kept the score line where it was.
Icehawks captain Jake Baird tipped in a power-play goal with three seconds on the clock brought the scoring to an end.
“The self-discipline was very good on our guys’ part,” said Joslin.
“It’s tough, you play a hard-fought divisional game the night before and then you play several hours later, and the game gets chippy. But the boys stayed disciplined, and that really is something that we can build on for a tough game Wednesday.”
Valenzuela now has points in all but one contest so far this year. He has 18 points over his current streak of points in nine-straight games.
North York emerges from the weekend with four points, and slip into sixth place in the Southwest Conference sitting on 16 points after 17 games.
They are back in action Wednesday night at the Herb Carnegie Centennial Arena when they host the Aurora Tigers. Puck drops at 8 p.m.