|DiRienzo makes back-to-back
starts for the first time this season
Carlo DiRienzo was sporting an all-new look this weekend. It could be argued that the Rangers are too, after all it was the first time all-season where DiRienzo had started in back-to-back games, infact Carlo relieved Dickie the previous Friday night giving him playing time in 3 of the last 3 Rangers games. The Rangers after ending the netminder debate chosing to go with both Dickie and DiRienzo went to the expense of painting both of their netminder's masks. The masked man at the other end was none other than OHL Eastern all-star Michael Mole. After a triumphant 4-1 Rangers victory in Belleville last season Mole walked into the Memorial Auditorium and silenced the 5,000+ in attendance last season, earning first star in a 3-0 Bulls victory. This time things were different for Mole who watched a 3-2 Bulls lead evaporate in Erie the previous night, prodominantly on the strength of 3 consecutive powerplay goals by Mike Rice. Mole whom allowed 4 third period goals during the game on the previous night didn't appear to have regained his confidence in Ktichener. Greg Campbell ripped a low shot from the blueline which snuck past Mole to open the scoring and it was a sign of things to come for both Mole and the Rangers.
Nathan O'Nabigon scored for the second consecutive night for the Rangers to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead late in the first period, the goal came on a tip of a Andre Benoit point shot on the powerplay, the Rangers only powerplay goal out of 7 chances. The Rangers shut down the traditionally strong Bulls powerplay on their 5 chances, including a 5 minute advantage in the third period. Former Ranger: Jim Hulton, who is the coach of the Belleville Bulls seemed very concerned about the Rangers top line of Roy, Kanko and Campbell, he was constantly making changes just after pucks were dropped. Kanko contributed 3 points in the Rangers' 3-2 overtime victory in Belleville. Someone forgot to remind Hutlon about the Rangers' sizzling number two line. For the second straight night both Richards and O'Nabigon had both a goal and an assist each. Richards' contribution gave the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead, in addition Richards also fought with Belleville captain Malcolm Hutt, whom did not return to the game after an apparent hand injury. What may have been lost in the tally is the tremendous hit that David Clarkson had to absorb at center ice to get Richards the puck and send him in two on one with Martynowski.
DiRienzo's shutout bid ended at the midway point of the second period, during a goalmouth scramble he mistakenly swatted the puck in the wrong direction in an invain attempt to clear it. Todd Griffith picked up a rebound and just barely squeaked it under DiRienzo's pad and over the goal line. The goal, however provided little in the way of life for the Bulls, it was more of a reminder to continue pouring it on for the Rangers. DiRienzo gained some revenge of his own, assisting on Roy's breakway pass to Peter Kanko who deked Mole, and scored. Minutes later Martynowski scored top shelf as he was being hauled down by a Belleville defender, that ended Mole's night.
The third period was relatively uneventful
in terms of scoring but had it's moments. The Rangers continued to
pound on the Bulls defense with solid checks. At the midway point
of the third period. Rangers' defender Marcus Smith caught Matt Stajan
with his head down at the blueline, sending his helmet rocketing into the
air. With the gloves, stick and helmet flying on contact Cody McCormick
went after Smith for some revenge wrestling the veteran blueliner into
submission before Smith could react. Smith was given both a major
for fighting, elbowing and a game misconduct, which drew booes from the
racous crowd of over 5,700. Smith would not be suspended since there
was no elbow involved in the hit, and the ruling by the official in charge
was incorrect. With the score 5-1 and the Rangers crowd counting
down the final seconds of the game Rafal Martynowski tucked in a Michael
Richard's rebound with only 2 seconds left. The goal was Rafal's
third in his last two games, making it his first career two goal game.
Roy's 300th, aids Rangers in 5th straight over the Otters
Derek Roy crossed over the magical 300 point mark on a night which will probably vault the Rangers right back into the thick of the CHL top 10 after a one week absence. Roy's landmark assist came with just over a minute remaining in the second period, on what proved to be a very deflating goal for the Otters. The Rangers picked up the puck for Roy whom joins the elite and now three member 300 point club. Derek Roy is now rubbing shoulders with former Rangers' greats: Dwight Foster and Trevor Gallant. Foster's 382 career points are now within conceivable reach for Roy who currently has 301 points. It is unfortunate that the Guelph Storm managed to give the Rangers captain a goose-egg in the points department on Thursday night otherwise Roy might have struck 300 in front of Rangers fans, instead severe weather warnings kept even the most hard core Rangers fans out of Erie, PA.
Evan McGrath opened the scoring for the Rangers early in the second period, the goal came after the Otters beat Scott Dickie but failed to negotiate the post, and with fans still booing thinking that their Otters had earned a goal. Shortly after Michael Richards put the Rangers up 2-0 while shorthanded, for Richards it was his third goal in three games, he completed the weekend with 5 points. Richards' recent output might be in response to a recent list from NHL Central Scouting which has him ranked at only #16 in the OHL. Much like in the night before the Rangers' shutout was broken in around the midway point of the second period. Chris Campoli beat Scott Dickie on the powerplay. As the Rangers did the night before in the first period, the Peter Kanko struck late in the second period, deflating a loud as usual Tuilio arena in Erie just before the two teams hit the dressing rooms. The goal was sweet revenge for Kanko who was bested by Aceti on a breakaway, and only came seconds after Benoit had stepped onto the ice after serving a tripping minor, it was this goal that Roy made his historic 300th point on.
In the third Campbell put the game out of reach in the third again with a penalized Ranger just stepping back on to the ice. As it was with the 3rd Rangers goal, there were 3 Rangers' defenders on the ice at the time that the goal was scored. The Rangers powerplay again strugged completing the final two games of the weekend a combined 1 for 14. In addition to failing to score in 7 opportunities, Carlo Coliaicovo had a shorthanded breakway that Dickie stopped with a flashy glove save. After the game coach Peter DeBoer commented that Thomas Harrison had the game of his career, after an early ejection to T.J. Eason for a cross-check, Harrison was forced to take on extra ice time. He responded well and though he didn't figure into the Rangers scoring, he did finish the night a plus-3 and left the game after a dust up with the Otters: David Herring, whom was ejected.
Scott Dickie held the Rangers in the scoreless
first period as they got off to a slower start than on Friday night.
After a 9-5 shot on goal advantage in the first, the Otters were outshot
26-11 through the final two periods. The Rangers are now 4-0-0 versus
the Erie Otters this season, and have won their last 5 meetings with the
Otters. Last season the Otters took the season series 5-2-1.
Because of the All-Star festivities in Kitchener it was the fourth game
in four nights for: Roy, Kanko, Cambpell and Erie's: Carlo Coliaicovo and
coach Dave MacQueen.