Back to the Future 3: Galbraith doubles up

By Stephen J. Holodinsky
The Leafs had yet another long shot pay off in their second game of the Rookie Tournament. Against Carolina it was Ben Ondrus who shone and, while he didn’t let up at all, the New York Rangers have probably seen all they want to see of the team’s other free agent invitee, Lance Galbraith. Not only did he score back-to-back goals in the second to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead, he also served as the line’s constable on patrol, taking on Tommy Bolduc and then later Wes Jarvis. While he didn’t win either bout outright, he did hold his own and against Bolduc (who only uses icetime as a prelude to a fight) that’s really saying something.

But it wasn’t only Galbraith who was dropping the gloves. Jacques Lariviere, interrupted an uninteresting start of the match long enough to pummel Kris Mallette into the ground. This seemed to give a spark to the home side as shortly thereafter, the Baby Buds offense kicked into high gear, lead by blueliner Jon Zion who consistently forced the Rangers into decisions they didn’t want to make. However, overconfidence became a factor and when on near successive shifts Lariviere and Morgan Warren made brutal giveaways that forced Jean Francois Racine to come up big.

A penalty to Peter Reynolds, allowed the Rangers to roll out their vaunted extra man unit that featured Pavel Brendl on the wing and Jamie Lundmark on the point. It was the Leafs that got the best chance however when Brad Boyes picked up a loose puck on the left wing and watched the defenseman trying to cut him off fall while making his pivot. Racing in all alone against Vitall Yeremeyev he faked forehand and tried going short side. It was not to be however as the Khazakh goalie was up to the challenge. As for the Rangers, their chances came from the perimeter, thanks to a very belligerent Vaclav Zavoral, who was moving people out of the crease in they way that one sorts through garbage.

While the first frame ended scoreless, the goose eggs didn’t last long as the Rangers, on the powerplay once more, were able to capitalize on a great play by Phillip Novak. Novak knocked down a knee high clearing attempt by Petr Svoboda that had bounced off the boards toward the middle of the ice with his stick. He then fed the puck to Pavel Brendl who fired it on the net where Stefan Cherneski got a stick on it and deflected it home.

Shortly thereafter the two heavyweights, Lariviere and Bolduc, squared off due to the latter’s flagrant elbow to the head of Peter Reynolds. All told the Ranger took 10 minutes in penalties to the Leaf’s 5. It was only 10 seconds after that that Boyes got his revenge. After he won the face-off back to Zion the defender skated forward and when the Rangers began to shift their defense he fed Mirko Murovic who skated down his wrong wing and cut towards the net, fending off a check the entire time. A perfect backhand feed set up Boyes for the tap in.

Before the fans could stop clapping for that goal Lance Galbraith standing at the half-boards sent a nifty cross-ice pass to Allan Rourke who returned the favour seconds later this time with Galbraith standing on the doorstep. 2-1 Buds. It was Galbraith tallying again midway though the second, but it was some great cycling between linemates Miguel Delisle and Luca Cereda that made it happen. Once the Swiss pivot came out of the scrum with the puck he made like he was going to take it behind the Ranger goal but shortly before doing so sent it into the slot for the hot winger who buried the one-timer.

Again though, overconfidence (and perhaps some inexperience as well) crept into the Leafs game as some poor defensive positioning on the penalty kill lead to the box collapsing and a glorious opportunity for Ranger LW Evgeny Gusakov who wasted little time in pulling the New Yorkers to within one. A second Galbraith tilt later, this one against Wes Jarvis early in the third. was a prelude to a power play marker by Pavel Brendl from the top of the circle on his off wing off a feed by Stefan Cherneski. Although Racine did get a piece of it, the shot nonetheless found the mesh. This was followed by some very sloppy hockey from both teams as the ice started to deteriorate to the point of sweating along the boards near the middle of the rink.

For a while it looked like the game would indeed end in a draw. But then something happened that must have brought approving nods from the Leafs scouts. It all started with Michal Travnicek blocking a waist high clearing attempt. After having his original shot bounce of someone and squirt to the right and retrieved the puck and attempted to go backdoor to the mayhem being caused by Alexei Ponikorovsky. Two more tries and a whack at the disk by the Ukranian found the puck sliding out into the right face-off circle where Kris Vernarsky pounced on it. Skating across the width of the goal, the pivot lifted it over the sprawled goaltender for the game-winner with about two minutes left to play.

Final score: Leafs 4 – Rangers 3

Three Stars

Lance Galbraith – Two “goal scorers” goals have got to have some teams wondering why they didn’t take a chance on him in the draft.

Galbraith on what tonight’s performance means to his chances of sticking with the Leafs:
“Well I hope (that they noticed me), but one game doesn’t make a season. Hopefully if I impress tomorrow night something will work out.”

Galbraith on the all Ottawa 67’s line: “It’s a lot of fun. I’ve played with Delisle before and we’ve had a lot of success. Cereda is just phenomenal you just can’t say enough about him. You know if you’re open he’s going to get you the puck.”

Jonathon Zion – Add one puck, light fuse, stand back. That pretty well sums up the game Jonathon Zion had tonight. He was dangerous either skating with the disk or passing it up ice and really flew back on defense. Although he might be a year away, this could be the next Bryan Berard.

Zion on how he has developed his offensive game: “I’ve had some great coaches over the years. The last few years it’s been (67’s coach) Brian Kilrea. One of his main things is making sure we move the puck quickly. He just wants us to make the easy pass and sometimes the easy pass is the right play out there.”

Alexei Ponikorovsky – With the big Ukranian, it was the case of the immovable object (him) against pretty well all of the Rangers team. Time after time he refused to be separated from the puck and his wingspan made the opposition pack a lunch every time they started down the ice. He also did some heavy lifting on the penalty kill and was the lone forward the only time the Buds were two men short. Needless to say, he excelled at both.

Ponikorovsky on his stint on the penalty kill: “I like it that the coaches trust me to do this. If they asked me, I’d be happy to do this again.”

Others that impressed

Vaclav Zavoral – Brutally efficient in front of his own goal. Facewash is free.

Mirko Murovic – Came out hitting and really improved with the puck.

Luca Cereda – He is really started to hit a comfort zone with the North American game, lost his fear of contact and made several fine passes.

Brad Boyes – Looked very creative, made defenders backup. He was very good at getting into the Rangers’ passing lanes.