Another win, but what matters most is that the New York Rangers are prepared for an all-important bracket game against Anaheim Junior Ducks Thursday, February 16 at 8 a.m. in the Quebec International PeeWee Tournament in Quebec, Canada.
Coach Andrew Billinghurst has his team playing like a team, with one important bracket victory over Whitby, 4-0, and three Showcase shutout wins which are not part of the bracket play. His Rangers continued the steady improvement with a 4-0 win over San Jose Junior Sharks on Monday, February 13.
The Rangers have not been an early, out-of-the blocks team in Quebec, but did grab a 1-0 lead in the first period against San Jose when defender Leo Schwartz continued his hot hand in scoring plays with his slick pass for a Aidan Durso goal to put NY on the board at 11:25.
The first period also saw another near-goal when Devin Kaplan broke away to the net and fired up a bullet which the San Jose goalie somehow gloved what must have looked like a 100 mph rocket.
The Rangers have been proud of their handy work particularly on defense, as the team has not allowed a goal in four games, outscoring foes 18-0. It looked like that streak was ended when the puck trickled into the net of goalie Gavin Moffatt late in the first period. But wait…..was it a high stick call or a hand pass. No matter…..it was NO GOAL! The streak continued.
The Rangers showed plenty of confidence to go with patience in the second period when the team had two consecutive shifts of five or more passes before selecting the right shot. On the second of those, a power play goal was the result when Beanie Richter scored with the delicate precision of a surgeon on thegoal, following the penalty drawn by Will Reardon when he was mauled into the boards.
Some stupendous defensive plays were in order for the Rangers in the second period. San Jose had a breakaway and Ranger defender Dante DeBueris made up 10 feet in the skate sprint to slap away the puck in front of the goal. Moffatt was under attack late in the second when a flurry of shots and then saves prevented a San Jose score, finally swatting the puck up ice and out of danger.
The third period started out like a Sharks feeding frenzy. The Sharks were hungry. The final period started out with a breakaway by the huge Sharks defender, and Moffatt made the save look easy, and again for a second time. San Jose played in that charged up attack much of the third period including seven shots on goal at the mid-way point in the period. As expected, the NY defensive wall, The Wall, did what it does…..maintained shutout hockey.
The Rangers upped the score to 3-0 in the third. After some intensive pressure, the Sharks tried to clear the zone but the puck went airborne and Reardon batted it down in front of the net, then slid the puck to Durso, who then returned the puck to Reardon - buried, top shelf. Defender Schwartz continued his offensive on every foe in sight late in the third period. A deflected pass from Kaplan found Schwartz' stick, which immediately did its job, with a low screamer into the left side of the net.
For the game, Moffatt had 15 saves and the Sharks goalie had 19 saves. The Rangers look forward to another Showcase game Tuesday, February 14, against Syracuse Stars, which opened their bracket play in the Elite division with a win.