CARDINAL – The South Grenville Rangers’ dreams of championship glory ended April 2. The Clarence Castors followed up on a 5-1 win March 29 with a close 3-2 win to complete their sweep of the Rangers in Cardinal.
Going into the series, Ranger General Manager Lucas Stitt said he knew playing against the Castors in the final would be a challenge. The two teams jostled for top of the National Capital Junior Hockey League standings all season with the Castors eventually finishing in first place.
“This season it seemed like the league was wide open for anyone to win the championship after not playing last year due to the pandemic,” he said. “We knew every series was going to be tough to make it to the finals.”
It took South Grenville all five games in the first round series to get past the Morrisburg Lions. The Rangers rebounded from a 2-1 series deficit to advance to the second round where they faced the North Dundas Rockets. That semi-final series was not any easier for South Grenville as the Rockets took it to six games with the Rangers winning that series four games to two.
The Rangers entered this past weekend down 3-0 after a pair of double overtime losses last weekend and a 5-1 drubbing on March 29. On the ropes and trying to stave off the sweep, South Grenville trailed Clarence 2-1 at the end of the first period of game four. The Rangers tied the game in the second period but were unable to stop Nicholas Gaumond’s championship-winning goal in the third, sealing the Castors win and the Rangers sweep.
Jordan Poulin and Jacob Servage scored a goal each for the Rangers in the loss.
“We played each other seven times this season and game three of the final series was the only game that wasn’t a tie or decided by one goal,” Stitt said. “Unfortunately for us, we were on the wrong side of three very close games that could have gone either way. Like most teams 15 games into the playoffs, we have many players playing through significant injuries and we just came up a little bit short. Hats off to Clarence, they earned the championship.”
Looking at the 2021-22 season, he said the season was to be a rebuilding year for the club. The Rangers ended their 2019-20 campaign having won the regular season and had their undefeated run in that year’s playoffs cut short by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stitt said he had mixed feelings about this and the lost season.
“The majority of that group was to return for the 20-21 season that ultimately never got played. We’re incredibly proud of this group and our future, but also disappointed for our past players.”
Looking ahead to the next season, Stitt said there is not much of an off season for team management, even after the team banquet is over.
“Our May prospect camp is around the corner,” he said. “My goal is when we’re back in the rink for training camp in August, both Junior and Senior Rangers teams will be positioned for another spring full of playoff hockey. Winning championships is always our goal.”