2005-12-16 / Sports

New York Hockey Report: When David Took On Goliath

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

NEW YORK - It was that matchup that wasn’t. When the Vancouver Canucks came into town last Tuesday, it marked the first time Dominic Moore had a chance to avenge Todd Bertuzzi’s debilitating hit on his brother Steve back in late 2004.

But to his credit, Moore went out and played his game in the Rangers 3-2 loss, but Bertuzzi still got some action.

Late in the second period, after Canuck captain Markus Naslund wacked Blair Betts, Ryan Hollweg retaliated and when the Vancouver tough guy went after the 5’11” Ranger enforcer, Hollweg fought back. Giving up four inches to Bertuzzi, he was beaten in the fight, but the referees made sure he won the war.

The result: Hollweg went to the box with two minutes for elbowing and five for fighting and Bertuzzi took two for instigating, five for fighting and a 10 minute game misconduct.

“The trade off between me and Bertuzzi was a good one,” Hollweg said. “He’s got 17 minutes and I got seven. He’s an All-Star in the league and I am a new guy, so we will take that tradeoff every night.”

On a team with great skater and hard-working players, the rookie out of California gives the Rangers some toughness from the checking line. He makes no bones about his game and has become a fan favorite at the Garden. “The style of play that I have, fans like watching it,” Hollweg said. “And I have kind of been a fan favorite wherever I have been. Fans like a player who hits hard and fights, so it’s no surprise that they have taken to me.”

The 22 year-old wasn’t out there to defend the Moore family honor, but was ready to protect any teammate, which the opposition decided to take a liberty with.

“That is something we weren’t concerned with all we were concerned about being prepared for the game and getting the two points,” Hollweg said. “What happened happened. It was in the past and it was not a factor.”

And that is the attitude the whole Ranger team has taken. This game was designed as a litmus test to see how the Blueshirts held up to one of the league’s elite. It went well, even if the result was a loss.

“We played a very good hockey club,” Jaromir Jagr said. “They played well, but I’m not worried about it. We lost, but we proved we can play with anyone and beat anyone.”

That includes the toughness factor. Coach Tom Renney doesn’t want to see his hard-working rookie get into too many fights, but still appreciates his abilities.

“Anytime Ryan is in the lineup, he is going to provide a physical element to the game.” Renney said. “You don’t want to put him in the position where one big tough guy is knocking him out. He has to play and he does that.”

This is why Hollweg’s teammates can look to him to have their backs.

“I just playing my game and hitting guys,” he said. “Their guys will protect their teammates as we protect our guys.”

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