Rangers draw first blood in overtime in ball hockey final

Dave Kearsey
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Matt Russell, left, of the Luxury Limo Curling Rangers' and Daniel Smith of Marble Zip pursue the loose ball during game one of the best-of-five Corner Brook Men's Ball Hockey League final at the Pepsi Centre Tuesday.

Dwayne Evoy had a chance at redemption in overtime.

He delivered the dagger into the hearts of the opposition firing a wrist shot through a maze of players to beat Scott Walsh with the winning marker just over two minutes into the extra session.

The goal gave the Luxury Limo Curling Rangers a 3-2 overtime win over Marble Zip to draw first blood in the opening game of a Corner Brook men’s ball hockey league best-of-five final affair Tuesday at the Pepsi Centre.

The Rangers had the luxury of an extra attacker on the ice as the goal was scored with referee Leo Griffin with his right armed raised with the intent to call a minor penalty against the Marble Zip immediately after seeing goalie Scott Walsh deliver a cross-check to a Rangers forward in a skirmish around the circular crease.

Evoy’s night could have been much different.

The former gritty senior hockey league veteran, all five-foot-six of him, made things interesting when he took a four-minute penalty for cross-checking with just over five minutes left in regulation and his team staring down a 2-0 deficit.

Two power-play goals came in a hurry with Evoy anxiously watching from the sin bin.

Jeremy Schwartz fired a wrist shot from the top of the slot past Rangers goalie Adam Hicks that beat him high on the glove side with 4:21 remaining in regulation. Matt Roach picked up a helper after feathering a soft pass into the slot for the one-timer. Andrew Smith picked up the other assist on goal.

Just 55 seconds later, Roach — the leading scorer for Marble Zip in the first round of the playoffs — fired a soft backhander during a goalmouth scramble that seemed to have eyes as it slowly trickled across the line to even the contest at two goals apiece.

Both goalies had their shining moments in this wide-open showdown to set the stage for the series.

Walsh had some big saves early in the game, stopping Evoy with a nice pad save from point-blank and denied Matthew Russell with a hard-one timer on a give-and-go with linemates Cory Russell, his father and Darren Buckle.

Hicks had the biggest save, perhaps, when he denied Ryan Penney on a breakaway with 1:51 left on the scoreclock over centre ice. Penney looked to have him beat with a deke to the glove side, but Hicks forced the ball to graze off the post and slide slowly out of harm’s way.

The opening period saw both teams keep firing the ball on net with every chance as if they knew the goalies would be ready to steal the show on this night.

Tim Caines opened the scoring on the power-play with 2:59 left in the first period when he tapped in a rebound left up for grabs after Walsh had made the initial save on a Shawn Neary blast from the top of the face-off circle.

Joey Bennett was also credited with an assist.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead at 8:26 of the second period thanks to the Russell-Russell-Buckle trio.

They got rewarded for their tenacious fore-check and territorial gain as a unit when Cory had a ball hit him in the waist in front of Walsh.

He then gathered the ball and fired a shot past Walsh before being sent for a tumble by a frustrated Marble Zip defender who was too late to clear the ball.

Game 2 of the final is Thursday 8 p.m. at the Pepsi Centre.

Organizations: Luxury Limo Curling Rangers, Pepsi Centre.The Rangers, Pepsi Centre

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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