As the main writer for the Gloucester Rangers website, I’ve had the chance to see the team play on a number of occasions so far this year (although I must admit I haven’t been going as often as I’d like). The season has surely not been unfolding the way the team would have thought while in training camp.
Back then, it was hoped that the loss of three players to the OHL and more to college and age would simply mean others would need to step up. After a couple weeks of decent play, the team began a winless streak that lasted for over a month. At one point, the team had 9 regulars out with injury or suspension. Each game saw different aspects improve, but a sustained 60 minute effort bringing it altogether was missing.
Then, a few players came back from injury, and things really started to come together. They started winning again and beating some of the big teams, like Carleton Place and Ottawa. All of a sudden, there were mentions of the playoff picture and catching up. The powerplay, which at one point was almost letting in more shorthanded goals than it was scoring, started to improve as did the penalty kill.
But a poorly planned party took attention - and a couple of players - away from the ice. Since then the team has yet to regain the form it had though certain players have made very positive impacts.
The team has essentially two types of players – veterans and rookies. While the veterans may be few in number, they have provided the bulk of the scoring with McMurtry, Cobbold and Verrin showing the best offensive numbers on the team. McMurtry, the team’s lone representative at this week’s All-Star Challenge, is on pace to shatter the 54 pts he got last year as he has 41 through the team’s first 40 games.
The rookies have been impressive and the team should hope to have some around for the coming years. Chad Millett, Daniele Disipio, Jacob Jammes and John Owen Stewart have created roles for themselves on the team. Alexandre Boivin has been the most impressive using his hands and wheels to put up 11G and 18 A for 29 PTS so far and was named the CCHL rookie of the month for November.
Thirty-nine players have donned a Ranger uniform so far this year. But it’s beginning to look like the team is coming together. The remaining 22 games should see improved results over the first half of the year as the rookies continue to gain confidence in their play. If Mathieu White plays all 22 games, he would pass Andrew Creppin for most games played for the Rangers. He’s currently at 155 and Creppin finished with 172. Then his younger brother, who the Rangers protected at this past summer’s draft, should step in and provide some help upfront in the coming years as his brother moves on.