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CJHL Hockey
Rangers hand Grads third straight loss
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The Cumberland Grads lost 4-3 to the Gloucester Rangers on home ice Sunday. It was the Grads’ third straight loss since beating the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Nepean Raiders in back-to-back games last week.

The Cumberland Grads lost 4-3 to the Gloucester Rangers on home ice Sunday. It was the Grads’ third straight loss since beating the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Nepean Raiders in back-to-back games last week.

Grads head coach Mark Grady puts much of the blame for the current slide on their grueling schedule. Since Jan. 2 they’ve played 10 games in 16 days.

“Yes we’re playing a lot of games, but they have to figure it out. We have five more games between now and Feb. 1,” says Grady. “If we keep playing the way we are we’ll be lucky to make the playoffs.”

A quick look at the standings shows that the Grads are still in fourth place in the overall standings, four points up on the fifth place Brockville Braves and 12 points up on the eighth place Cornwall Colts.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are battling to stay in the playoff picture. Sunday’s win over the Grads puts them two points up on the Colts in seventh place with a game in hand.

After barely getting by the last place Hawkesbury Hawks 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday, they were blown out 13-1 against the Nepean Raiders on Friday. Needless to say Sunday’s win over the Grads was huge.

“You’re probably going to end up with a team above .500 not making the playoffs, so you have to fight for every point you can get,” says Rangers’ head coach Vince Malette. “If we compete within a structure we do well, it’s when play outside of the structure that we have trouble.”

Gloucester got on the board first against the Grads on a seeing eye shot from the point by Cory Melkert that caught the top corner at the 7:09 mark of the first period.

The Grads responded with three unanswered goals by Mathieu Ouellette, Marc-André Labelle and Chris Murphy to take a 3-1 lead by the midway point of the second period.

Cumberland looked to have everything under control until Jamie Collins was allowed to walk out from the boards during a power play before backhanding a shot between the legs of John Griggs who was playing in only his second game since being acquired from the Hawkesbury Hawks on Jan. 9.

In his first start against the Ottawa Jr. Sens last Thursday, he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a 4-3 loss.

The 20-year-old goalie continued to look shaky on the Rangers’ tying goal a minute and a half later when he tried to cover the puck with his blocker only to have it poked past him by Corey Durocher.

With the game tied 3-3, the Grads came out flying to start the third period and even had the benefit of an early power play but they couldn’t score on Mike McLeod who was called up from the Sittsville Royals to start in place of Francis Dupuis who was taking a game off after being shell-shocked against the Raiders.

After the Rangers weathered the initial storm in the third period, they turned the tables on the Grads and eventually scored on a great second effort by team captain Brandon Edge.

The Grads had plenty of chances to get the equalizer and force overtime, including a pair of power play opportunites late in the third period, but the Rangers’ penalty killing unit was equal to the task and in the end they held on for the 4-3 win.

The Grads will try to end their losing skid at home Tuesday night when they play the Cornwall Colts in a game that was postponed earlier in the season due to a power failure, while the Rangers try to make it two in a row against Hawkesbury on Friday.

(Posted 11:30 p.m., Jan. 18)

 

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