By Jamie Neugebauer
When it comes to injuries and adversity and the 2013-14 North York Rangers, it doesn’t rain – it pours.
John Carpino scored two power-play goals and Adam Valadao was dominant, but with a severely shorthanded roster the Rangers could not hang on and fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Pickering Panthers on Wednesday night.
Despite only having two veteran defenceman for most of the night, Rangers head coach John Dean did not use it as an excuse for his club post game.
“I am happy to take a point but obviously giving up a two-goal lead is tough,” Dean said.
“We talked before the game that we had no excuses, because the Panthers and the refs don’t care, and we should have put that one away.”
Carpino banged in a rebound from a blocked Liam Kerins point shot to give North York the lead at 17:07 of the first period, then after Pickering tied it Adam Valadao patiently spun and fired upstairs on Panther net minder Steven Dombrosky putting the Rangers back up one heading into the third.
Carpino cashed in three minutes into the third with a beautiful move to his backhand to give the Rangers their third.
Early in the game, Brody Power was shown the gate for a hit from behind and that prompted Dean to make the unorthodox move of slotting winger Zach Fung on defence for the rest of the game.
And with all things considered, the 19-year-old Fung did a great job.
“Fung is dynamic,” Dean said. “I think he did a great job filling in on the back end, I thought he was calm, composed and I didn’t see too many mistakes in his game to be honest. It was tough for him to go back there and do that but he did a terrific job and he’s a character kid.”
North York went 2-for-4 with the man advantage and killed all six penalties, finishing the night with the OJHL’s fourth-best power play and second-best penalty kill.
“I am happy with our special teams but I am not happy with where we are in the standings,” Dean said.
“We’re so skilled up front that our power play is bound to put pucks in the net and I think we are in the box so much that we get so much practice at the penalty kill that we’re bound to be good at that too.”
With Georgetown’s defeat at home to Aurora, the Rangers move into a tie with the Raiders for fifth in the Southwest Conference and sit three points back of second-place St. Mike’s in the South Division.
North York is next in action on Friday night when it travels to St. Mike’s Arena to take on the Buzzers in the Battle of Bathurst.