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Sports

January 27, 2013

High school hockey: Rangers repel two-goal deficit, knock off North Andover

Rangers erase two-goal lead, beat Knights for second straight win

METHUEN — Desperation has been a part of Methuen’s game for a while now. Now the Rangers may have some company.

With no margin for error where a postseason berth is concerned, the host Rangers battled back from a two-goal deficit to defeat North Andover 5-4 yesterday.

After going 0-8-4 through its first 12 games, Methuen has won two straight. Conversely, the Knights have lost three straight, two against teams they had beaten earlier in the season, and now stand at 6-8 needing nine points in their final six games to make the playoffs.

“We have to win out,” said Ranger head coach Denny Egan. “I told the kids Wednesday (a 2-1 victory over Dracut) and I told them (yesterday) that if we were tied with 1½ minutes left in the game, we were going to pull our goalie and play for the win.”

Whether that win-at-all-cost attitude had trickled down to the players is unknown, but what is known is that the Rangers peaked at the right time yesterday. They owned the majority of a physical third period and stuffed North Andover on a pair of power-plays to stay close.

“Our record is deceiving because this is the best we’ve played in six years,” said Egan. “The players are improving and they’re buying into the program. We treat the kids like our own sons, they know what to expect from us and they come ready to play.”

Methuen’s rebound started after a tough second-period stretch where a Dan Rivet pass deflected off a Ranger defenseman’s stick and into the net, followed 22 seconds later by a beautiful 5-hole wrister from Derek Hunter for a 3-1 Knights lead.

“We could have cashed it in but we came back and battled and battled,” said Egan.

The coach even had a silent timeout.

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