|Suspensions take bite out of
much anticipated game
Storm coach: Jeff Jackson suspended an unprecedented 9 Storm veteran players for breaking curfew but the game was only decided late in the third period as the Rangers scored a trio of goals late including an empty netter by rookie Evan McGrath to close out the game. Despite the fact that the Storm were playing without many of their marquee players including netminder Andrew Penner, whom wasn't suspended but didn't start in goal for the Storm, the Rangers only broke away from the Storm for good at the midway point of the third period. Jaime Vander Verken had just scored his first OHL goal on the powerplay from Daniel Paille to tie the game when the Rangers went to work on the powerplay. Bill Kinkel scored the only powerplay goal for the Rangers who only had 4 opportunities in the game but made it count when they had to on the last of those four. Only one minute later Rafal Martynowski put the game away undressing Dennis, whom had a strong outing being named first star. The goal gave the Rangers their first two goal lead of the game.
With Micheal Richards opening the scoring so early in the first period combined with the fact that the Storm couldn't muster a shot in the first 10 minutes of the game infront of their hometown fans despite a powerplay opportunity, seemed to indicate that the rout was on! Nothing could be more incorrect as Alex Butkus scored from the point on the powerplay tying the game. The goal was his OHL first, in the third teammate: Vander Verken also scored his OHL first on the powerplay. The Storm were granted 9 man advantages in all including a 2-man advantage in the first period.
The Rangers seemed to control the game five-on-five as they only had to worry about All-Stars: Daniel Paille and Dustin Brown who both played the night before in Kitchener for the OHL West All-stars. The Rangers big #2 unit of Kinkel, Richards and O'Nabigon seemed to dominate the play physically, the trio contributed two even strength goals, and Kinkel scored on the powerplay too, each member of the line had a goal and an assist. The two Rangers' matchups against the Storm this season have been lackluster, despite the Rangers devastating 4-0 series loss to the Storm during the opening round of the 2002 OHL playoffs. The season series is now 1-0-1 in favor of the Rangers, the only other matchup of the season ended in a 4-4 tie on Thanksgiving day.