It is such a cliché in sports, but it is so true: they don’t ask how, they ask how many.
For the North York Rangers this past weekend, the answer to that question was four; that is, four points against divisional foes, after the club trounced the division-leading Toronto Jr. Canadiens on Saturday, and then squeaked by division-minnows Toronto Patriots on Sunday.
The club followed up their 6-1 victory Saturday at Toronto’s Scotiabank Pond with a double overtime thriller back at the Herb on Sunday, and despite the fact that the club did not play great vs. the Patriots, North York head coach Brent Hughes was still happy with his club’s overall weekend.
“One thing I have stressed from Day 1 is for us to be successful we absolutely have to outwork the opponent,” Hughes said Sunday evening.
“For the most part of the game I thought the Patriots outworked us and at the end of the day, work beats skill all day unless skill works hard. So it was a good back and forth game, they are a much-improved team from what we saw early in the year. They played a good game, their goalie played strong, and I thought defensively we were a bit too patient. At the end of the day we’ll take the two points and the four-point weekend.”
Ryan Takamatsu got the Rangers off on the right foot Sunday by receiving a centring feed, circling Pats goaltender Jacob Standen, and beating the rookie through the five-hole 4:44 into the second period.
Veteran Toronto forward Connor Beck was the recipient of some good luck 50 seconds into the third period, when a Rangers’ clearing attempt went off his pants, and then fluttered over Gianluca Baggetta in the North York goal for the equalizer.
Jake Harris beat Standen through a screen from the top of the right circle at the 3:26-mark of the second overtime for his first career game-winning goal.
A huge key in the contest was Baggetta, who replaced an injured Jeremie Lintner in the Rangers’ net to start the second period.
Baggetta made 33 of a possible 34 stops, including two breakaways late in the contest on second-year Patriots’ forward Jeremy Pullara.
“It is huge for Baggetta to do what he did,” said Hughes.
“It is not so much the confidence with me, it’s the confidence in him of the guys in front of him on the ice. So when the players know when the goalie is there, it leads to more offensive chances very directly. Baggsy did a great job today.”
The win put the Rangers within one point of first place in the South Division, with two games in hand on the first-place Toronto Jr. Canadiens.
North York is next in action Wednesday evening when it travels to Georgetown to battle the West Division-leading Raiders. Puck drops in Alcott Arena at 7:30 p.m.