|6 in a row for the Rangers since
dropping out of the CHL top 10
George Halkidis scored with only 51 seconds left in regulation time as the Rangers extended their winning streak to 6, with their 5 staright win away from home ice. The Rangers last lost on the road nearly a month ago in London, a loss they avenged a week later with a 5-0 win. Scott Dickie, always strong in Sarnia earned first star along with full marks for an excellent performance. The Rangers over the past 4 seasons have received some incredible netminding performances in Sarnia from both Dickie and Bourcier. The Rangers coverage infront of Dickie wasn't ideal all of the night but the coverage that they received between the posts was the best that could be expected.
The Rangers have been eyeing the Sting since the beginning of the season in the Western Conference, finally got their shot. One night removed from Teddy Bear night, the Rangers arrived in town winners of their past 5, running into a Sting team that were short a few talents, including: captian: Tyler Hanchuk. The Rangers (#6) had just recently zoomed past the Sting in the standings and now wanted to prove that they were above the Sting (#5) in the national rankings. Unfortunately the Rangers only get partial marks for squeezing out this victory, since they were outplayed and outshot (14-12) in the final period. Dickie had to bail the team out several times, and other times it could be argued that the Sting's shooting incompetence beat them. It was certainly not the case for the opening goal which rocketed to the top corner on the overaged Rangers netminder. Help me help myself comes to mind for Rangers netminder Scott Dickie who vaulted: Ryan Munce, Lukas Mensator, and Paulo Coliaicovo up to 4th in the OHL in GAA, DiRienzo sits on top of the OHL for the Rangers who by no coincidence lead the OHL in goals against.
Adam Keefe also made his return to the Rangers' lineup, and put his name on the scoresheet 3 times, the most important of which came with only 38 seconds left in the second period, assisting on a Matt Grennier goal which tied the game at two. The goal came just minutes after Sarnia's Joey Tenute opened the scoring late, roofing a wrister on Dickie. Adam Keefe would also manage to take people with him to the box on two occasions and played with the grit that has made him popular this season, after a season filled with questionable penalties the year prior. Keefe's biggest capper came in the third when he stickhandled slickly infront of Sting netminder: Munce and was just stoned on a backhand which was targeted for the top corner glove side.
Though the game did lack some of the passion which might be expected when the top two ranked teams in any conference meet, some of the rough stuff did come into play. Thomas Harrison earned a decisive decision over: Marco Capara early, before a huge Marcus Smith hit along the boards landed the veteran Rangers' defender into trouble with Daniel Carcillo. Neither the instigator, nor the hit were called as penalties. Though Smith didn't do overly well in the dust up, he did stand up for himself, rather than backing down, much like he did a week ago Friday against Belleville's Cody McCormick. The 4100 Sting fans, and busload of Rangers fans that made the trip were hardly entertained for two periods. The shorthanded Sting tried to play a conservative game against the Rangers who are becoming known for being one of the more stingy teams in the OHL in terms of goals against. After both teams broke the goose-eggs late in the second period, the third did open up a little more especially after Gregory Campbell gave the Rangers their first lead of the game just over a minute in. The goal seemed to stimulate the Sting who were just coming off a second period where they were only able to muster 3 shots on Dickie. Second round pick Michael Haley scored his first ever sending the Sting crowd into a frenzy. The next 10 minutes of hockey would have several close calls for both teams, especially the Sting, who rotated quick enough in the Rangers zone to confuse the Rangers who for the first time in the game looked a little perplexed in their own zone. In the late going it appeared as if overtime was a foregone conclusion. But official: Ryan O'Neill stacked six questionable minors on top of each other starting with 2:43 remaining in regulation, leading to 4 on 3 Rangers manpower advantage on a very questionable kneeing penalty to Aaron Power. McGrath was waltzing into the slot area with the puck when hit by Power. The hit did appear to be a clean and smart hip check, but was called a knee. With the Rangers in control on the man advantage, Roy's missed shot led to overager: George Halkidis jumping into the high slot and pounding the puck into the half empty net. To further complicate the Sting's dilemma, the goal came with 8 seconds remaining in a minor to Reg Thomas, and the staggered penalties to both teams the Rangers almost immediately went back on the man advantage until a late penalty to Rafal Martynowski was called.
On the overall, the Rangers probably felt as
if they could have, should have put a stronger exclamation point at the
end of this victory over the Sting. Due to the Rangers number 2 and
3 units failing to provide quality scoring opportunities, Martynowski and
Kinkel swapped lines in the third period, a change which may have proved
costly in defensive zone coverage. Martynowski who has been very
hot of late did have a clean breakaway on Munce in the second period failed
to covert with the score knotted at zero. Paul McFarland was a healthy
scratch because of Keefe's return to the Rangers lineup and an otherwise
healthy Rangers team. With Roy, Campbell and perhaps: Kanko prepared
to depart for the World Junior camps, there will be plenty of time for
McFarland to make his mark around Christmas time. Scott Dickie was
named the games' first star, Sarnia's Ryan Munce and Marek Chvatal, took
2nd and 3rd star honors respectively.