By Jamie Neugebauer
Ted Hunt and Matthew Whittaker scored two goals apiece as the North York Rangers (1-0-0-0) opened up the 2014-15 Ontario Junior Hockey League season with an emphatic 8-4 victory over the St. Michael’s Buzzers (0-1-0-0) Friday.
Ryan Takamatsu, Kyle Clarke, Zack Fisher and Nick Zanette all recorded their first career OJHL goals, while four others notched their first career junior points.
North York bench boss Mark Joslin – who earned his first ever victory as head coach of the Rangers Jr. A on the night – was content, though not fully satisfied, with the effort.
“The North York-St. Mike’s rivalry is always good and if you can go get your first win in their barn it’s huge,” he said.
“We gave up too many scoring chances in the third period, but it’s great to score eight goals on the road and get that first ‘W’ off our chests.”
Hunt’s first goal of the game came 11:34 into the first period when his hard wrist shot beat the St. Mike’s goaltender clean to tie the game up at one.
Takamatsu gave North York its first lead of the contest at 18:07 of the opening frame by one-timing home a two-on-one feed from Gabriel Valenzuela after Matthew Whittaker sent them into the Buzzers’ zone.
Whittaker got on the board himself at the 6:47-mark of the middle period after St. Mike’s forward Thomas Beretta banged the puck into his own net, and then made it four for the visitors with a beautiful wrist shot short side on Buzzers’ net minder George Argiropoulos with 31 seconds remaining in the period for his second of the game.
Hunt notched his second on the power play 31 seconds into the third period by beating Argiropoulos in tight, and then Clarke made it 6-1 when he jammed in a rebound from a long shot from Phillip Chadder.
After the Buzzers replied with two quick goals of their own, Fisher got in on the act by re-directing in a Max Novick point shot at 10:36, and then Zanette got the Rangers’ eighth when his well-placed wrist shot found the far side of the net at 11:18.
St. Mike’s got another one late, but it was far too little and far too late as North York cruised to its first win of the season.
Six different Rangers had multi-point evenings while Gianluca Baggetta made 24 saves in the win.
The Rangers are back in action Sunday afternoon for the home opener when they host the Whitby Fury at the Herb Carnegie Centennial Arena, puck drops at 3 p.m.
“We’ll look to clean up our defensive zone for sure,” Joslin said, “but we’ll get last change on Sunday and look to clean up some of our mistakes from the third period. If we execute those things, and finish like we did today, then we’ll be fine.”