By Jamie Neugebauer, Staff Writer
Sunday afternoon at the “Herb” was one of those games as the Rangers dominated the visiting St. Michael’s Buzzers 7-3 for their second offensively explosive win in a row.
After the game, head coach John Dean was especially encouraged about the level of puck movement from the North York defencemen.
“We were very happy [about it,],” he said in the coach’s office.
“The reason that it was successful was that tonight is the first time that our forwards really bought in to the system and were [effective] outlets for them. They made it easy for our defencemen, it was a team thing and everyone executed as a group.”
The Rangers energetically pounced on the visitors early and often, and got rewarded with a much larger quantity of quality scoring opportunities.
Chris Aitcheson’s backhand beat St. Mike’s goaltender Adrian Ignagni to the far side 10:34 into the game, and then Liam Kerins pounced on a rebound with just over a minute remaining in the opening period off of a Zach Fung wrist shot.
Unfortunately for the Buzzers, he was not done.
After St. Mike’s cut the lead to one 6:42 into the second period, Kerins blasted home his ninth of the season on the power play that beat the visiting goaltender clean to give the Rangers the 3-1 lead.
“He has an NHL-calibre shot; it blows me away every time,” said Dean regarding the Caledon-native.
“We have taken him off the top line; not as a punishment, but as an attempt to get some secondary scoring, and his line [along with Austin Galli and Fung] seems to be clicking. He is shooting the puck, and it’s beautiful.”
John Carpino scored the fourth at the 12-minute mark, stretching North York’s advantage to three, but two goals just over two minutes apart by the Buzzers at 13:25 and 15:51 of the second cut the lead back to one.
Yet the Rangers snuffed out St. Mike’s hope real quick.
Corey Kalk started the final period by tearing down the right wing, backing off the Buzzers’s defence, and roofing the puck crossbar down 1:15 in.
And then Kerins had one more bit of magic that he pulled out of his bag of tricks at the 6:51-mark.
The Caledon-native skillfully evaded a defender at the St. Mike’s blue line, steamed to his right, and then fed Fung with a perfect cross-crease pass that he could not help but slam home.
Michael Giacometti’s rocket from the left point finished off the scoring at 13:06.
Jacob Keogh was very steady in net for the Rangers; making 30 saves on the day and playing a big part in forcing the high-powered Buzzers power play to go 0-for-8.
“Jacob is a very athletic goalie,” Dean said concerning the rookie.
“He knows he needs to work on his rebound control and I think he has been doing that very diligently with [assistant coach] Matt Johnston who works with him every day.
“I think his focus was there tonight, and the goals that gave up were not ones he could have stopped.”
North York next game comes on Friday when they host the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots