North closed the regular season with a 3-1 win at Chardon on Saturday.
The win was the third of the season for the Rangers and helped to generate some much-needed confidence and momentum heading into the postseason.
Even more important, the win kept the Rangers from finishing at the bottom of the Western Reserve Conference standings for the first time in school history.
“We had talked about it early last week, the thing for us, especially since Chardon was a makeup game, we had never finished in last place since we had a team,” said North coach Steve Misick. “That’s been 42 years. Had we tied or lost, we’d have been in last place.”
Max Patrick, Kaden Kocin and Mason Robey each scored a goal for the Rangers.
“The win really boosted our confidence heading into the playoffs for sure,” Patrick said. “We have been in so many close games this year and it was kind of relieving to finally get a result. We also did not want to finish last place in the conference, so we got the job done on the road. It will really boost our confidence for Wednesday.”
The Rangers open the postseason at Madison on Wednesday. The Blue Streaks edged the Rangers in their regular season meeting on Aug. 28, 3-2.
“We are approaching the playoffs like it’s the first game of the season,” Patrick said. “Everything resets now. We finally showed we can get a result on the road this weekend and we are ready to do it again on Wednesday. The confidence is back and our team is ready. We are young but our seniors know what’s at stake. We will give it all we got.”
If North’s players come out on Wednesday with the same effort and mindset they played with on Saturday, Misick is confident the Rangers can advance to the second round.
“They played with a little bit of urgency, which was good,” Misick said. “You have to play with urgency in the postseason.”
North spotted Madison a two-goal lead in their first meeting then outplayed the Blue Streaks the rest of the way.
“Looking back, we didn’t play with any urgency to start the game,” Misick said. “They were up 2-0 in the first 20 minutes and once we decided we wanted to play we outplayed them 2-1 the rest of the way.”
At Madison, North will play on grass for the first time this season.
“That doesn’t change anything tactically,” Misick said. “We’re going to try to do the same things but we’re already a poor passing team on a perfect surface so this makes it a little tougher when we have the ball.”