You can take the third-string title, and throw it in the trash.
Goaltender Marcus Vandenberg has arrived, for the Kitchener Rangers.
After being shoved into the starting role, thanks to season-ending surgery to Jackson Parsons, and a lower-body injury to overager Marco Costantini, Vandenberg has found his game.
He stopped 43-of-46 shots Thursday, and the Rangers popped the Peterborough Petes 4-3.
"He's playing like a starter," said head coach Chris Dennis. "The most amazing thing is his demeanour is just like nothing has changed. From third-string, to starting games, to whatever, he's just been unbelievable."
Over his last three games, Vandenberg has turned away 103 of the 108 shots he's faced.
He's 4-1 in his last five starts, and is quickly earning the trust of his teammates.
"He's been stellar, again tonight. Just an unreal performance by him," said overager Reid Valade. "He's been a brick wall back there for us. Him shutting the door gives us a lot of confidence to go out there and do our stuff in the offensive zone."
Valade did his "stuff", scoring twice in Thursday's win. The second, and seventh of the season, came after a lengthy review, and proved to be the game-winner.
"I went back to the bench mid-play and was telling them to check it," said Valade, who skated in his 200th OHL game. "I thought for sure I saw his glove go into the net."
It took a few minutes of play for a whistle to happen. A penalty was called on Rangers defenceman Matt Andonovski. That's when the refs went to video review.
They still gave Andonovski the penalty, despite the clock being reset to when Valade's goal crossed the line.
"I've never seen that," said Dennis. "I asked the referee if he was sure about that rule. He said yes. I said, 'Well, it's your mistake that you didn't call it, and now we're suffering from it.' It is what it is. If it's the rule, it's that rule."
"We had the replay on the bench, but you can't challenge it," added Dennis.
"That's three in a row for us. We need to ride this high, but not get too cocky at the same time," said Valade. "We just have to put some good games together like this. We've had really strong starts, so we have to keep that coming."
The Rangers improved to 10-1 when scoring the first goal. They have the second best record in the league when opening the scoring.
Filip Mesar picked up two assists in the win, one of which was an absolute beauty.
What a pass from Filip Mešár ??— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) December 9, 2022
The @CanadiensMTL first-rounder absorbs the check and slides the puck underneath two sticks to find @TBLightning prospect Roman Schmidt trailing in, earning tonight's #BestOfOHL honours ??@MilkUPOntario | #MilkUPxOHL pic.twitter.com/mDODIxUOQK
Kitchener hosts the Niagara IceDogs Friday. Pregame begins at 6:30 p.m on CityNews 570 with Mike Farwell and Chris Pope.