Whittaker, Valenzuela lift Rangers past Buzzers

TORONTO, Ontario - Mar 19 : OJHL South West Conference playoff series round two, Toronto Lakeshore Patriots vs North York Rangers, Matthew Whittaker #89 of the North York Rangers skates with the puck during first period game action. (Photo by Gary Keys / OJHL Images)
January 19, 2015

7:44 AM EST

Gabriel Valenzuela scored twice in eight seconds and Matthew Whittaker notched the winner at 4:23 of the second overtime period as the North York Rangers rallied to edge the St. Michael’s Buzzers 4-3 on Sunday.

Gianluca Baggetta was solid, especially in the extra frames, and made 33 saves on the contest for his 20th victory of the season.

Despite the close score line, Rangers’ head coach Mark Joslin felt his club was clearly the better team on the afternoon.

“We had a really good first period and dominated most of the time,” Joslin said.

“Their goalie played great. Our power play was moving the puck well, we had great execution other than the finish part, but some times when you let a team like that hang around like that and you find ways to get down. But credit to the boys, they certainly stayed resilient and earned two points.”

Former Buzzer Ted Hunt opened the scoring at 12:36 of the second period when he whipped home a rebound on the power play.

Ashur Elliot then tied it up again less than two minutes later by re-directing in a Troy Oakley pass on a 3-on-1.

Two St. Mike’s goals early in the third period from Scott Teskey and Ian Edmonson at 1:07 and 5:31, respectively, gave the visitors a 3-1 lead against the run of play; and then the Gabe Valenzuela show began.

Valenzuela jammed in a rebound with 1:52 left on the clock to bring the Rangers within one, setting the stage for one of the nicer goals that could be seen anywhere.

Eight seconds after his first tally, Valenzuela took a pass at the St. Mike’s blueline from Will Reilly, made a spin move to beat the Buzzers’ defender, and then fired a perfectly aimed backhand over the goaltender’s shoulder to tie the game and send the North York bench into a frenzy.

Whittaker’s winner came on a two-on-one shot that beat Buzzers’ goaltender Mark Manolescu high to the glove side.

“It is definitely up there as one of the most dramatic games I have ever been apart of,” said Joslin.

“As a head coach it is probably the best. Kudos to the guys for earning the extra point today, because every one of them is so valuable right now.”

The Rangers sit in fourth place in the conference with 10 more games left on the schedule. They are back in action Monday night when they travel to Cobourg to take on the Cougars at 7 p.m.