By Jamie Neugebauer
Zach Fung is a winner; it’s as simple as that.
The second-year forward notched his first career hat trick, while John Carpino also netted three and six different Rangers had multi-point nights as North York pounded the Oakville Blades 8-1 on Sunday night.
If Fung’s success is a surprise to anyone, it is not to Rangers head coach John Dean or the organization as a whole.
“I think myself and the North York Rangers organization as a whole have seem him as an elite player in this league since he stepped in,” Dean said post-game.
“Not everyone notices it because he’s a 200-feet-of-the-ice player and so he doesn’t always get the credit that he deserves, but he is embracing an offensive role now and is proving that he can produce. I am not surprised at all.”
Carpino, Adam Valadao and Gabriel Valenzuela all counted with first-period power play markers while Fung got one with the man advantage in the second and Carpino got another a man up in the third.
All told, the Rangers finished 5-for-11 on the power play and cracked the league Top 10 with a league seventh-best PP by the end of the night.
North York also held the Blades to one goal on five man-advantage opportunities.
“I think the thing about special teams is that they can save your bacon,” Dean said.
“We got out to a sluggish start but because of special teams we took a quick lead and it helped the guys settle down and meant that I could teach in the intermission instead of just trying to motivate. The effort came back with the scoreboard and we got a big win as a result.”
Jason Pucciarelli was solid in net, making 24 saves and earning his third win of the season.
“Jason Pucciarelli is a pretty confident kid and he proved himself as an elite goaltender in the league last season with our big run,” Dean said.
“We haven’t really done a great job in front of him so far this year but tonight he saved us, especially in the first period, and I could not be happier for the kid to get a strong victory.”
North York has a quick turnaround as it heads to Buffalo on Monday night to take on the Southwest Conference-leading Junior Sabres, puck drops at 7:30 p.m.