By Jamie Neugebauer
You win pretty or you win ugly; either way, you get two points, and though North York’s 3-2 victory over the Aurora on Sunday afternoon – it’s first of the campaign – qualified as the latter, Rangers’ head coach John Dean still had a smile on his face after the game.
“We’re just so happy to get a win,” Dean said, after the team had dropped the season’s opening two contests, “the team’s happy, obviously we got it ugly, but we’re happy.”
John Carpino and Corey Kalk managed to weave their first combined magic of the season when the latter found the former with a perfect centering pass at 1:08 of the second period to give the Rangers the lead.
Liam Kerins doubled North York’s account at 18:12 of the middle frame with a one-timed blast on the power play, fed by Patrick Piacentini.
After Aurora had cut the lead to one, Gabriel Valenzuela scored his third in three games by banging in a rebound off of a Matthew Whittaker short-handed rush at 8:48 of the final stanza.
The Tigers cashed one more with just over two minutes left in the game, but North York held on, needing a dramatic, last-second blocked shot from forward Zach Fung.
“Winning is habitual, so it’s a huge win for us,” said Dean.
“We’re really excited about it and from the adversity we’ve faced these three games I think these kids really want to succeed.”
North York iced three rookie defencemen in the game with Jeremy Szabo, Max Novick and Christian Zanetti all getting the call on the back-end.
“When you ask rookie defencemen to step in like those three did in a game like that, as a coach it makes me really confident in my line-up,” Dean said, “so I’m really proud of those three guys.”