Matthew Whittaker and Gabriel Valenzuela both continued their streaks of recording at least a point in each game so far this season, but it was not enough as the Toronto Patriots (5-2) rallied past the North York Rangers (2-5) 4-3 on Friday.
Gianluca Baggetta was excellent, making 22 often-difficult saves, but he could not prevent the Patriots from climbing back from two two-goal deficits on the day.
Afterward, North York head coach Mark Joslin was disappointed with his club’s performance.
“We went over little ‘attention to detail’ things,” Joslin said, “like face-offs and puck retrieval and the winning goal was exactly that: a lost assignment, and here we are again.
“We had a little bit of a more complete game, but we still lost a tight one. It’s definitely frustrating.”
Marcus Rose notched his first at the 3:25 mark of the opening period when he banged home a loose puck in front of the North York goaltender.
Will Reilly tied proceedings less than two minutes later, wristing in with a screened point shot on the power play.
Whittaker scored on a breakaway 18 seconds into the middle frame to give the Rangers their first lead, and then when Ted Hunt weaved his way past the Patriots defence to finish from in close at 4:09, it felt as though the Rangers had finally found a winning formula.
Yet after calling timeout, Toronto closed back within one by way of another Rose goal from in tight at 5:52 of the second period, and the comeback was on.
Marco Bozzo pounced on a rebound from a Kovachis point shot four minutes into the third period, and then Syrydiuk completed the rally to give the Patriots the win in Game 1 of the Governor’s Showcase at 12:55.
“I’m not sure that we’re a 2-5 hockey team,” Joslin said.
“Sure, we’re in a bit of a rebuild and some of our younger guys are getting ample opportunities to play and perform, but they aren’t at this point, so at the end of the day, it’s really up to them how bad they want to win right now.”
The Rangers will have another chance to impress at the Governor’s Showcase on Sunday in Oakville when they take on the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Puck drops at a special time of 10 am.