After a day-off from hockey spent in a tubing winter paradise, the New York Pee Wee Rangers were back in action on Tuesday as they traveled out to the Quebec City suburb of Charlesbourg to a rink named after former NHL goaltender Rejean Lemelin. It was fitting, then, that a goaltender would feature in the game’s storyline, and that was certainly the case as Danny Gerts had a great day backstopping his team to a shutout win.
But there was more to the story than strong goaltending. This exhibition game against the Anaheim Jr. Ducks was a solid team effort across the board. Following their victory in the tournament opening game, the Pee Wee Rangers know their road will only get tougher as the week continues, and that attention to detail becomes more important every time out.
From the game-opening draw, the Pee Wee Rangers were on it. Nearly six minutes into the first period, Jamison Moore made a sharp pass to Joe Luff in the slot. Luff then awed the spectators as he practically did a 360 to spin away from his check and find Daniel McKiernan closing in on the net. Luff’s pass was right on the money and so was McKiernan’s shot to give New York a 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later, following a face-off in the Anaheim zone, Dante Palumbo deftly found the back of the net to make the score 2-0 Pee Wee Rangers, Evan Brown and Greg Spitznagel assisting.
That line continued its scoring ways in the second period when Dante Palumbo banged the puck over to Greg Spitznagel at the half-wall. Spitzy was nifty as he deked and dangled his way to the net and hung the Ducks goalie out to dry. 3-0 New York. Following a successful penalty kill, the Pee Wee Rangers continued to press the attack. The line of PJ Neal, Evan Brown, and Michael Emerson had some glorious chances but failed to cash in as the second period came to an end.
Just 65 seconds into the third period, defenseman Chase Ramsay, who continues to impress, joined the play and banged the puck past the Anaheim goalie to put the Pee Wee Rangers up 4-0. Joe Luff picked up his second assist of the game as did Jamison Moore. With a four goal lead in the closing minutes, the focus was now on Danny Gerts and preserving the shutout. Gerts throttled a Jr. Ducks two-on-one break and the three good shots that quickly followed it. Then with 2:18 left to go, the Ducks were awarded a powerplay. Nothing helps a penalty kill more than keeping the puck in the other team’s end, and that’s exactly what the Pee Wee Rangers did. The game finished 4-0, Danny Gerts skating off with the shutout.
Afterwards, Pee Wee Rangers co-coach Noel Rubin commented, “We were in full control. Our passing was great, and the defense held well. We had some great chances and could have scored more, but I’d much rather see us cash in when we play our next tournament game. Puck luck will come our way.”
That next tournament game comes on Thursday, February 18th against a strong team, the Chicago Young Americans. The Pee Wee Rangers practiced Tuesday afternoon, and will do so again on Wednesday to make sure they’re ready when the puck drops again for real on Thursday morning.