By Jamie Neugebauer
Liam Kerins extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games and North York made it five games since giving up a power-play goal but it was not enough to prevent the Rangers falling to the Wellington Dukes by a score of 4-2 on Sunday.
Dukes’ forward Joe McKeown netted a hat trick on the day, including the game-winner with a shifty move to the backhand at 12:37 of the third period.
Afterward, North York bench boss John Dean was not overly disappointed with the defeat.
“I thought our guys worked hard,” he said.
“I thought we had three breakdowns for three goals and I guess our guys beat themselves a bit. But we are going to lose some games down the stretch here, obviously we don’t want to, but Wellington is a great team that found a way to get two points and we didn’t.”
McKeown gave the Dukes the lead at 4:51 of the first period by beating Jason Pucciarelli through the five hole on a two-on-one but John Carpino tied it up 1:13 into the second with a well-aimed wrister on the power play.
Andrew McCann redirected a Mike Robinson shot off of a draw won after a North York icing call that fooled Pucciarelli to give Wellington the lead again but Kerins’ turning snapshot beat Dukes’ net minder Tyson Teichmann short side at 12:08 to even proceedings up again.
McKeown completed the hat trick into the empty net with 26 seconds remaining in regulation.
“I don’t think we worry too much about [facing competition from the power-packed East Division],” Dean said.
“We just have to match their compete level and work and the way we move the puck with our speed we should be able to beat anyone. Today we didn’t find a way, so it’s back to the drawing board tomorrow.”
The Rangers win streak ended at six games, so far their longest of the season, but due to the idleness of the teams around them, they remained 11 points back of the Toronto Patriots for the division lead and two points ahead of Milton for third spot in the Southwest Conference.
North York is next in action on Wednesday evening when it travels to Trenton to take on the Golden Hawks, puck drops at 8:30 p.m.