TEWKSBURY, MA -- Both teams were in action during the final weekend before Thanksgiving, as the Rangers organization played well in Vermont. The EHL team dropped the first game in a shootout, but won the second game of the series to bring their overall record up to 14-7-2, which is good for 2nd place in their division. The EHLP squad on the other hand, still sits at top of their conference as they won all 3 of their games against the Lumberjacks, giving them a record of 19-2-2 for the season.
On Saturday, the EHL squad faced-off against the Vermont Lumberjacks for the first of 4 matchups between the 2 divisional opponents this season. After a scoreless 1st period, Will Roberts got the Rangers on the board with a power-play tally around the 8-minute mark of the middle frame. However, the Lumberjacks answered with a 3rd period power-play goal of their own, to even things up at 1 goal apiece. After a scoreless overtime period, the Lumberjacks took the extra point by winning the shootout. Billy Girard was solid in net, stopping 26 shots in the loss.
The boys returned to the same rink the very next day for a second matchup against the Lumberjacks. Danila Larionovs found the back of the net near the end of the 1st frame to put the Rangers up 1-0. The Latvian had the hot hands as he converted on the power-play in the first couple minutes of the 2nd frame for his 21st point of the season. The Lumberjacks would cut the lead in half just a few minutes later, but Andrew Keith put the Rangers up 3-1 with a shorthanded goal around the 11-minute of the frame. The back and forth action continued as the Lumberjacks answered just under 2 minutes later, followed by a goal from Anton Metelev that put the Rangers up 4-2 heading into the 3rd. Keith gave the squad a little insurance in the first minute of the final frame with his team-leading 13th goal of the season. Despite a late goal from the Lumberjacks, the Rangers won the second game of the season series by a score of 5-3. Aiden Curry made 31 saves in the winning effort, giving him 7 wins for the year.
On Friday, the EHLP squad traveled up to Vermont to face-off against the Lumberjacks to kick-off a 3-game series. The Lumberjacks found the back of the net first, around the 5-minute mark of the 1st period to go up 1-0. After a scoreless 2nd frame, Max Stephens got the Rangers on the board with a goal just over 3 minutes into the 3rd. The Lumberjacks would answer a few minutes later to take the advantage again, but Jake Mecrones evened things up with 2 minutes left on the clock, forcing overtime. The Rangers power-play carried over into the overtime and it didn't take long for Dennis Engelson to score the game-winning goal, as the Rangers won by the final score of 3-2. Bobby Mccluskey stopped 20 out of 22 shots in the win.
On Saturday, the boys returned to the rink for the second game of the series and got out to a rocky start as the Lumberjacks held a 2-0 lead after the 1st period. Ian Wark got things going with a goal just over 3 minutes into the 2nd frame, and just minutes after that, the Rangers leading scorer Matt Orlando evened things up at 2 goals apiece. However, the Lumberjacks answered in the final minute of the frame to take a 3-2 lead into the break. Matt McPherson found the back of the net just 25 seconds into the 3rd to tie up the game and the Rangers didn't look back from there, scoring 6 unanswered goals in the period and winning the game by an 8-3 final. Xander Wardlaw, Matt McPherson (2), Lake Marsh, Mitch Gillespie, and Orlando had the 3rd period goals. McCloskey stood tall between the pipes, stopping 26 shots in route to his 10th win of the season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Rangers came to the rink looking for the series sweep. The Lumberjacks, however, scored just 40 seconds into the game to take an early 1-0 lead. After a scoreless rest of the 1st period, Engelson knotted the game up at 1 goal apiece, scoring just over 2 minutes into the 2nd frame. The Lumberjacks answered right back just 25 seconds later with a goal of their own and took back the lead. The back and forth action ensued as Levi Hensley got in on the action, scoring around the 11-minute mark of the frame. The game remained locked up at 2-2 until the 2:56 mark of the 3rd period when Marsh scored his team-leading 16th goal of the year and gave the Rangers the late 3-2 advantage. Cam Libby held of the Lumberjacks out in the final few minutes as the Rangers won by a final of 3-2. Libby stopped 17 shots in the win and is now 6-0-0 on the year.
Both teams are now set to return for an important month of December. For the EHL team, the final month of the calendar year includes 5 games against the Walpole Express, the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers (2), the Philadelphia Little Flyers, and the Philadelphia Revolution. It's very clear that this is a difficult stretch leading up to the holiday break.
As for the EHLP team, they will hit the ice for 5 games as well, 4 of which will be on road. Included in their final stretch before the Christmas break is another matchup with the New England Wolves, their first meeting of the year with the Philadelphia Little Flyers, and a 2018 championship rematch against the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers.