|O'Nabigon records second straight
two goal game
It was a tale of two periods in Guelph, the Storm arrived back in town after a hard luck overtime loss in Erie and one would think the team would be tired and devastated from the trip. The Storm did the exact opposite to start the game, the Rangers didn't help their own situation either. Peter Kanko sprained his ankle during the warmups and suddenly the entire famed All-Star line was either in the stands or in Halifax awaiting the World Junior Championships. Probably poetic justice for the Rangers who were poised to lose Kanko to the Czech team anyhow. The Rangers didn't help themselves by putting themselves down two-men only minutes into the game. A Storm onslaught provide the Storm with a 9-0 shots on goal advantage and by the time the dust had cleared a seemingly commanding 2-0 lead. St. Pierre scored on the powerplay and Geoff Patton snuck in to punch in his first of the season during a scramble giving the Storm a two goal advantage.
That's where things changed for the better for the Rangers. Thomas Harrison had a short lived scrap with Ryan Thompson, those who will remember, Ryan Thompson was the guilty party in a late season incident ending in a sucker punch which resulted in a Derek Roy. Nathan O'Nabigon would score his first of two on the night getting the Rangers back into the game at the midway point of the first period. One minute later Chad McCaffery cleanly won a faceoff back to George Halkidis. Halkidis' point shot was somehow tipped by impressive rookie: Paul McFarland who on the play seemed preoccupied with keeping his position in front of the Storm net. Penner really didn't have a chance on the re-direction. The Rangers really drove a stake into the heart's of the Storm when Richards and Martynowski took off on a Rangers powerplay and the puck deflected in off of Martynowski's skate, but legally and the Rangers were suddenly ahead 3-2. Not only that but by periods end the Rangers had put 16 consecutive shots on goal, more than sufficient to answer Guelph's 9 to start the game. The philosophy around the entire OHL has been to get to Penner early or risk not getting to him at all, this proved true on this night again, as the Storm held the Rangers to only one goal, the eventual winner, a howitzer by O'Nabigon to the top corner early in the third period. In the last matchup between the two teams in early December the Rangers scored their only 3 goals of the game in the first period.
O'Nabigon's night wouldn't be all about goals and glory he had a war with Guelph's Aaron Lobb at center ice with only seconds on the clock in the first period. The wild fight, had O'Nabigon at a 2 inch height disadvantage and also at the disadvantage of having lost his helmet early. Nathan did well against Lobb who's aim left something to be desired, late in the fight Lobb was rocked with a good right, call it a draw. Apparently, eventhough they were leading 3-2 at the time in a close game, the Rangers preoccupation with the Storm's Ryan Thompson didn't end. T.J. Eason had words for the winger who perhaps embarassingly sports an 'A' on the front of his jersey, and the two dropped their gloves at the drop of the puck. Eason landed a few before Ryan Thompson turtled, apparently Thompson had hoped that his passive agressive stance on fighting would gain the Storm a powerplay, if not a lengthy powerplay; unfortunately for the pesky winger both combatents were given 5's and sent to the box.
Despite missing two of their big guns also away at World Junior camps: Daniel Paille (Canada), and Dustin Brown (USA), the Storm took the play to the Rangers for much of the third period. While the it could be argued that the Rangers have more talent at the forward position after their number one unit, it cannot be argued that the Storm do not have more experience in that position. Lobb, St. Pierre, Dickenson to name a few had many opportunities on Dickie who controlled his rebounds well, and in the opinion of many of the low crowd of just under 3,000 in attendance probably deserved a start at the end of the game. The after Lobb's give and go goal at the Rangers goal line the Storm pressed but were unable to tie the game, George Halkdis' attempt at an empty net goal drifted wide and the Rangers ended up winning 4-3. Rangers power forward Nathan O'Nabigon was the only Rangers to receive a star selection, given 1st star for his second two goal performance in two road games.
Martin St. Pierre and Aaron Lobb were given
2nd and 3rd star respectively for the Storm. Matt Manias left the
game early in the second after a nasty collision behind the Rangers net.
After having his jersey held from behind, he was hit with his head down
and it appears as if he was cut on the cheek by his own visor. The
Rangers held a 33-28 shooting advantage overall after starting the game
down 9-0. The Rangers went 1/2 on the man advantage and the Storm
went 2-4, a far cry from the terribly boring teddy bear match up where
the game was marred with penalties and despite that fact the two teams
went a combined 2 for 21 on the powerplay. The Rangers have won the
past three meetings with the Storm this season and hold a 3-0-1 advantage
on them thus far this season.