March 27, 1984

John Rankel is trying his best to dispel the notion that he’s just another one of those dime-a-dozen scoring machines who seem to dominate hockey at the scholastic level. Most good teams possess one. You know the type a Marcel Dionne clone, somebody who can turn on the red light with one flick of his wrists. Trouble is, that same guy usually winds up impersonating a matador at the other end of the ice – on those rare occasions when he bothers to show up at all. He giveth and taketh away. But Rankel, who at first glance appears to fit that mold, insists that he’s only a victim of circumstances. If Council Rock coach Doug Melvin told his top gun to sacrifice firepower for defense, it would be like Paul Owens asking Mike Schmidt to lay down a few more bunts in order to keep the other team’s third baseman honest. You don’t mess with a good thing for the sake of appearance. “I take a lot of kidding from the rest of the team about my backchecking, or lack of it,” said Rankel with a smile, after his second goal last night 4:21 into overtime lifted the Indians to a 4-3 win over Monsignor Bonner in a Flyers Cup semifinal at the Skatium in Haverford. “I’m offensive-oriented. Even though I’ve worked a lot this year on improving the other half of my game, I know that I still have a long way to go. But you have to realize that the team depends on me to score. That’s my major contribution. “Since we don’t use a third line, I wind up playing 30- or 35-minutes out of 45] a game, where even most pros might only play 20 or so. It’s bound to take a toll. If I played less, I’d have more energy left to get back (on defense) quicker. As it is, fatigue starts setting in near the end. I’m not sure if I could have gone five more minutes tonight.” Thanks to a perfect setup by linemate Mike Cardonick, who also had an earlier goal and assist, Rankel didn’t have to. Cardonick came up with a loose puck in the right corner, drew a pair of defenders toward him, and then threaded a pass to Rankel, who was left unattended in the slot. Goalie Brian McHugh, who had kept the Friars in the hunt with some dazzling saves, never had a prayer. Rankel wasted little time pulling the trigger, sending the game-winner about knee-high to McHugh’s stick side. “He’s probably our best player, but you can’t forget the two capable guys he has working with him,” said Melvin, referring to Cardonick and Jim Phelani Jr. “They’re a big part of everything he’s accomplished. John’s only a junior, and we’ve put a lot of pressure on him because of all we’ve asked him to do. He’s not always as disciplined as he should be, but he’s dedicated to improvement.”

“The three of us have come together as a unit,” Rankel said. “We’ve been together for a while now, and it’s getting to where we’re very instinctive as far as anticipating what the others will be doing. We’re getting more confident each time we play.” The victory moved Council Rock, which had to upset Cherry Hill East in the Suburban League playoffs just to earn a spot in the tournament, into tonight’s title game against Archbishop Ryan, the Lower Bucks County champ. Ryan beat the Indians, 5-3, in last week’s opening round, then earned a bye into the finals by later beating Bonner. But under this format, where the first team to win three times takes the crown, Council Rock can gain revenge and a trophy all at once. Actually, this one probably should have been over in regulation. Bonner was forced to play short-handed for most of the middle period, including one two-minute stretch where it dodged a potentially hazardous five-on-three disadvantage. But the Indians’ power play managed to keep things interesting by firing blanks. “It’s funny, because we worked on that almost all-day Sunday in practice,” said Rankel. “We came close so many times that I started to think maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. When I went out for that last shift, I told him (Melvin) that I was going to get one to end it. That’s how it happened in one of the games against East. I like that situation.” Let it never be said that designated lamplighters, no matter how hard they try, influence outcomes by back- pedaling.

ICE CHIPS: John Rankel added an assist to bring his Cup-leading three-game points total to 11 (six goals, five assists)… Matt Goring scored early in the third period to give Council Rock its first lead, 3-2. Bonner’s Kevin Koelle scored with just under five minutes remaining to force overtime. Kevin Dolan and Jim Huf had the other Friar goals in the opening period… Craig Dal Farra replaced Stan Crooks in the nets for Council Rock midway through that first period and was rock solid, getting a lot of support in front from defenseman Steve Strzelecki.

CREDIT: Philadelphia Daily News

Mike Kern – Daily News Sports Writer