Rangers drop 2 in home-at-home with Windsor

Rangers bomb first weekend test

The most promising season since the 1996-1997 edition of the Kitchener Rangers started with a home-at-home with the Windsor Spitfires.  The Rangers received the news that their team was more than just highly touted as the Hockey News had the Rangers ranked 3rd in the nation.  Unfortunately the results didn't pan out for the Rangers who started this season the way that they exited their last season.  Despite missing some key personel at NHL camps the Rangers home opening performance against the Windsor Spitfires was nothing short of severely dissapointing.  Over 5,400 fans filed through turnstiles to see the Rangers get embarassed 5-0 by the Windsor Spitfires and rookie netminder: Denis Khudyakov, who was spectacular when he needed to be as the Rangers tested him several times late and also shutting the door with the game close early.

The Rangers lineup was about as incomplete as the rennovations on the Memorial Auditorium were incomplete.  Derek Roy, Petr Kanko, and star defender: Steve Eminger were all still trapped at NHL camps, and forwards: Mike Amodeo and Adam Keefe were also serving suspensions that were carried over from the previous years post-season.  However, on the negative side the Spitfires were missing offensive defenseman: Tim Gleason, and power forward Ahren Nittel for the two games.  Scott Dickie started game 1 and was replaced by Carlo DiRienzo after the 4th Windsor goal on Friday night, and Harpwood played the entire game in Windsor, allowing 5 goals prior to an empty netter making the score 6-3 with 61 seconds left.  Denis Khudyakov was the top star in the opener and was strong again in the Saturday matchup.  The Spitfires had 5 different scorers in the opener: Donally, Hennigar, Gibson, Wellwood, and James.

On Saturday night, Rob Hennigar who scored on Friday night as well, scored the winner and an empty net goal en route to his first hattrick and designation as the first star.  Matt Grennier, the Rangers lone representative in the three star selections in Kitchener left Saturday's game in Windsor early because of a collision with resident heavyweight: Cam Janssen, and would not return though his injuries are not expected to keep him out for the next home matchup against the Battalion on Friday.  Michael Richards' was the Rangers only selection in the three star selections, leading the Rangers with a goal and an assist on the night.  Both Marcus Smith and Richards scored on two-man advantages, and Evan McGrath scored his first of what should be many OHL goals late, the Rangers first even-strength goal of the season.

Rangers netminding wasn't up to par in either start, as the Rangers for the first time in years saw three goalies part take in the team's first two games.  Scott Dickie was pulled after 4 and the flood gates seemed to open up on Harpwood after Windsor knotted the game at 2.  Rangers' netminding was far from the only cause of the Rangers devastating loses.  The Rangers as a team appeared to be playing confused and more often than not out of position.  Several players repetatively lost assignments and both Scott Dickie and Matt Harpwood did all they could to bail out the team, but in some cases, there were third and fourth chances prior to the puck going in.  With 6 days between games, and the possibility of more players returning the Rangers during the week, the Rangers chances next weekend are far better.

Game Notes: Ranger Matt Manias along with Craig Kennedy will be suspended two games for their part in a second fight after a whistle.