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The Lakewood Rangers completed their Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League schedule by sweeping a pair of weekend contests against the Westlake Demons and the Twinsburg Tigers. On Saturday night, Westlake played a solid game and the Rangers had to score three third period goals to pull away in a 4-1 victory.
After a scoreless first period, Lakewood scored on a power play goal to take a 1-0 lead into the locker rooms after two periods. In the final frame, the Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead with goals by Freshman Gabe Constantine and Senior Will Holden. Westlake countered with a power play goal of their own to get to within two at 3-1, but the Rangers held the Demons at bay and added an empty net goal by Eli LaDue to cap off the scoring. Senior goaltender Rob Holden was, as always, stellar in the net stopping 29 of 30 Westlake shots in the victory.
On Sunday, Lakewood traveled to the Dan Kostel Recreation Center for the final conference game of the year against the Twinsburg Tigers. Jumping out to a 3-0 first period lead, the Rangers added 7 second period goals and the game-ender two and a half minutes into the third for the win. Senior net minder Rob Holden and Freshman goaltender Mike Grucella split the time in the net. Junior Defenseman Alex Blinky had his most prolific game of the year with a hat trick and three assists to lead the Rangers. Five other Lakewood icers also got a goal including Sophomore Zach Vuyancih who got his first career goal in the game.
Lakewood finishes the 2019-2020 divisional schedule with a 9-3 mark and a potential number two Blue Division seed in the upcoming Baron Cup Tournament. This marks the fourth time in the last five years that Lakewood has qualified for the Baron Cup. The opening round opponent, date and time of the first round game will not be known until after the upcoming weekend as several of the Blue North divisional teams still have contests this final regular season weekend.
Facing the league-leading Orange Lions, the Lakewood Rangers handed the Lions their first league loss 4-3 in a crucial divisional battle Friday night at The Pond. Both teams were missing players out of their lineups, but the Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 first period lead and never trailed the Lions in the contest.
The evening started out on an ominous note as the Ranger team bus broke down on the way to the game, and by the time a replacement bus delivered the icers to the rink, the game started 40 minutes late.
Freshman Jay Schmoldt put the Rangers on the board first notching a goal at the 7:03 mark of the first period.
Fellow freshman Jude Johnson extended the lead to 2-0 scoring at the 8:30 mark of the second, But, the Lions responded a minute later and closed the gap to 2-1. Lakewood’s Alex Blinky tallied his first of two evening goals to extend the lead to 3-1 a minute later and the Rangers carried a 3-1 lead into the dressing room after two periods.
Blinky scored his second of the night 1 and 1/2 minutes into the third – but the Lions countered only 11 second later. Orange added a goal with 4:35 left in the game to bring the score to 4-3 but the Rangers held on for the victory. Rob Holden stopped 26 shots en route to the win.
The win brought the Lakewood squad even with the Lions in wins in the division, but Orange has a game in hand heading into the second half of the season.
The victory raised the team’s record to 9-4 on the season with a 4-2 conference mark.
Lakewood and Orange will meet again on Sunday as they both are part of the CVCA Christmas Tournament which will be held at the Kent State University Ice Arena.
The rangers will not play a divisional game until a January 11th contest against Brooklyn back in the friendly confines of Serpentini Arena. But, following the tournament, The Rangers will host Avon Lake in a non-conference game on Saturday January 4th with the opening faceoff at 7pm.
The Rangers opened up the tourney with a 4-1 victory over a game Stow High school hockey squad.Under head coach Ryan Schelien, the Stow Bulldogs are fielding their first ever varsity team and played a solid game against the Rangers. Playing without senior captain Will Holden because of illness, the young Ranger freshmen stepped up and led the squad to victory.
But, the absence of the veteran winger the next morning was a factor in Lakewood dropping a 2-1 contest to the Nordonia Knights. Nordonia played an outstanding defensive game in shutting down the Lakewood attack, and while senior netminder Rob Holden turned in another solid job in net, the Rangers just couldnt consistently find the back of the Nordonia cage.
But, in the final game of the tournament, because Stow had upset Nordonia in an earlier game, the tournament championship came down to who would win the game between the Invaders and the Rangers. Although Lakewood scored first, the Invaders skated to a methodical 3-1 lead with only 3 1/2 minutes to play in the game. Normandy then found their way to the penalty box with a pair of penalties, With Senior forward Will Holden back in the lineup following his two day bout with the flu, the Ranger power pay came alive scoring on both of its opportunities within one minute to tie the game. Then, as Lakewood tallied its third goal, Normandy took another penalty which put the Rangers on the power play again. And, the Rangers again converted to take a 4-3 lead with only 1:30 left in the game. But, Lakewood then committed a holding penalty and with Normandy pulling their goalie, Rob Holden stood tall in goal against a 6-4 Normandy attack and the Rangers hung on for the victory and the tournament championship. It was the first tournament championship in the last five years for Lakewood and the Rangers proudly accepted the weekend hardware
The tournament victories upped the season record to 8-4 for the team who will next take the ice in a critical Blue North conference battle against league leading Orange on Dec 27th at the Pond. Puck will drop at 8:50pm for the league game.
Senior net minder Rob Holden started the game for Lakewood, but freshman goalie Mike Grucella got his first taste of varsity action as he minded the nets in the second frame. The two combined for the first shutout of the year for Lakewood.The Rangers will be on the road for 2 conference games this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, they will face the Westlake Demons in a 3:15 pm contest at North Olmsted recreation center. The two teams last met last November with the Rangers skating away with a 1-0 independent game win. This season, the Demons have dropped into the Blue North division of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League. On Sunday, Lakewood continues its weekend road trip with a conference game vs Normandy. The puck will drop at 6:45 pm at the Brooklyn Recreation center. Normandy was a last minute addition to the Blue North and to ease confusion on the schedule, assumed all of the home dates which Brecksville, who was previously a member of the conference, had scheduled. The two teams have met once earlier this season in the first league game of the year, when the Rangers scored an overtime power play goal to walk away with an 8-7 victory. Lakewood currently sports a 5-1 overall record with a 2-1 mark in the conference.