It was up and at them early this morning as the New York Pee Wee Rangers headed out to the Quebec City suburb of Beauport to meet a Triple A local squad, the SSF-Cyclones in an exhibition match at the Marcel Bedard rink. One of the things that is always striking when you walk into any rink in Quebec City is how much attention and respect the New York Rangers uniform generates from the local fans. They really get a thrill out of seeing the jersey and the red, white, and blue colors, and it’s a reminder to the Pee Wee Rangers of the responsibility that comes with wearing that name and those colors. There is the tradition of the New York Rangers and the standards that go with that. Those standards are very high indeed, but what they ultimately boil down to is that we all have the honor of representing the New York Rangers organization, and that means treating everyone with dignity and respect.
The Pee Wee Rangers hit the ice for the 10:15 am start and found themselves going toe-to-toe with an eager and fast-skating team from the SSF organization in Quebec City, a group that consistently ices well-coached teams. Sure enough, the Cyclones came out hard, but once the Pee Wee Rangers found their legs, the momentum started to shift. Joe Luff had a breakaway as did PJ Neal. Both were turned aside. In the meantime, throughout the first period, goaltender Tommy Heaney turned back the Cyclones like they were nothing more than a warm summer’s breeze.
After a scoreless first, the Pee Wee Rangers kicked it into a higher gear five minutes into the second period when Greg Spitznagel forced a turnover and got off a quick shot that was turned back. But Dante Palombo pounced on the rebound and whipped it home to give New York a 1-0 lead. Evan Brown got an assist along with Spitznagel. But a little more than two minutes later, the Cyclones opportunistically took advantage of a goal-mouth scramble and tied the game. The second period ended with the scoreboard reading 1-1.
The third period was a tense affair, but the action of the game was clearly in the favor of the Pee Wee Rangers. There were a lot of shots, yet no additional goals to show for it until a draw in the Cyclones end resulted in a Greg Spitznagel shot, a rebound, and a pretty goal from Michael Rubin who made no mistake as he blew the rebound past the Cyclones goaltender. 2-1 Rangers.
With less than five minutes to go in the game, the Cyclones ramped up their attack, but goalie Daniel Gerts, who had come on mid-way in the game, flashed some excellent leather making a number of nice glove saves. Nevertheless matters got a little tense when the Pee Wee Rangers were called for interference with two minutes to go in the game. The Cyclones pulled their goalie to gain the 6-on-4 advantage, but it was to no avail as captain PJ Neal sealed the outcome with an unassisted empty-netter. Final score: 3-1 in favor of the New York Pee Wee Rangers.
After the game, coach Jeff Devenney was happy with how his team came together noting, “Our chemistry as a team is really starting to take hold. We started slow, but the guys fed off each other to get it going. Our defense was solid. We’re built from the back end out, and that will help us as we play our first tournament game tomorrow.”