|O'Nabigon makes it 7 goals in
3 games, including back-to-back game winners
The Rangers only dressed 9 forwards against the Sting but 10 of them made the best of their ice time on this night with the Rangers. With a small parade of Rangers' forwards going to the box with fighting majors. The parade started with temporary captian Michael Richards fighting the Sting's top goal scorer: Kris Newbury, then both of McGrath's wingers: Clarkson and Kinkel finding their way to the box with majors 4 seconds apart, and then a very costly 10 minute misconduct to Matt Grennier. The penalty parade as it were was undoubtably part of a sceme by Sting head coach: Jeff Perry, a sceme that ultimately failed as the Sting failed to take advantage of the shorthanded Rangers in the first period, and Andre Benoit who had moved up to the forward position scored the first of 6 Rangers goals on the night. It may seem like ages ago but it was around this time last season that Andre Benoit was asked to play defense, something he has done ever since. With rookies: Nick Duff and Matt McCann dressed the Rangers obviously had reserves at the defense position, with 8 dressed in all. Andre Benoit's wrister rocketed past Gherson after a nice pass from Nathan O'Nabigon who alongside Michael Richards appears to hold the hot hand in Rangers scoring. The Rangers weren't the only team shorthanded on this night, the Sting had both of their imports away preparing for the WJC, in all 5 defensemen weren't present.
O'Nabigon's luck appeared to have dried up as he had the last of the great Rangers scoring opportunities in the first period before the two goal break through, on the same posession where he set up Benoit's goal, O'Nabigon roofed a shot which Gherson got just enough of to guide the puck over the net. O'Nabigon would have his revenge of sorts before Benoit's goal could even be announced, as he flipped a rebound over Gherson's shoulder. Much in the way of kudos should be given to Rangers' netminder: Scott Dickie who was solid surrendering only 2 goals on 36 shots fired in his direction, of late Dickie has had a knack making timely saves for the Rangers, because of the low forward depth and some of the individual contributions Dickie would not make the three star list. Dickie has now started 5 of the past 6 Rangers' games, though much of that could be attirbuted to a shot which injured DiRienzo's knee in London the weekend prior, DiRienzo did not dress the night before in Guelph.
A relatively tame start to the second period exhibitioned two squads who were playing shorthanded and were feeling the effects of playing the night prior; Sarnia dropped a 6-2 decision in Windsor and the Rangers were victorious in Guelph 4-3. On a late man advantage Nathan O'Nabigon made it three games in a row with 2 goals in each, his goal provided the Rangers with a 3 goal cushion and took the wind out of the sails of the Sarnia Sting. Richards set up the goal from behind the net on a rebound where O'Nabigon simply tucked the puck into the empty net. Unfortunately there was no assist for Rangers' defender: George Halkidis who made an excellent stop at the point and gave Martynowski, Richards and then O'Nabigon shots at the goal. Dickie's shutout attempt was only thwarted after the 15 minute mark of the second period, the Rangers were guilty of leaving the zone too quickly and with only Marcus Smith back on a three on one, Kris Newbury roofed a pass from Larman into the top corner glove side on Dickie. The Rangers didn't take their time in responding to the Sting's goal. Immediately after the Sting finally got on the board, McCaffery first tipped a Grennier wrist shot past Gherson and then only 25 seconds later Chad McCaffery busted through two Sting defenders after receiving a pass from McFarland putting the Sting away for good just prior to the final intermission. The Rangers had McCaffery out on the ice numerous times as time wound down but Chad failed to score a third to make his first OHL hattrick. Nathan O'Nabigon took little time to get his third of the night out of the way scoring on the powerplay, the goal which was set up by Michael Richards was the fourth point of the night for both O'Nabigon and Richards (who had 4 assists), they were named the games' first and second stars respectively. McCaffery took third star honors. Dan Fritsche rounded out the Sting scoring with a shorthanded goal off of a bad giveaway at center ice, making the final 6-2 Rangers.
The Rangers' 1st and third lines, usually the
2nd and 4th lines did all of the scoring for the Rangers. Rangers
fans can only imagine how much of a force their Rangers could become if
those lines continue their red hot play once the Rangers top unit reassembles
in early January. For the team it was their 4th win in a row and
second straight in their only two meets thus far over the Sting this season.
The McGrath line, with Bill Kinkel and Clarkson on the wings has been on
a bit of a cold streak and also suspect defensively, they were on for both
of Sarnia's goals including one shorthanded marker. O'Nabigon made
it two winning goals and two first star performances in two nights, which
should enable him to compete to potentially become the first Rangers' player
this season to be awarded player of the week, O'Nabigon's 7 goals in his
last 3 games allowed him to more than double his goal output for the season
(before last Saturday night he had only 6 goals on the season) in addition
Nathan equalled his career high in goals, (13) done in his rookie season
split between the Plymouth Whalers and the Mississauga Ice Dogs.
McCaffery's mark of two goals was also a career high, coincidentally he
doubled his goal totals in only one game. The Rangers, now officially
at the midway point of their season, have 52 points and are on pace to
break the 100 point barrier for only the second time in team history (the
previous time coming in 1984). Underage call-up: Mike Chmielewski
dressed but did not play on this night.