|Ryan Ramsay first star in two
He's been waiting for this game since being traded to the Plymouth Whalers, a matchup with his old team and former coach. Ramsay was quoted in the KW Record as being very frustrated, even mad about the lack of an appointment to the OHL western All-Star team, he got the best revenge that any player could, scoring not once, but twice for the Plymouth Whalers against his old team, the Rangers in the first period. His performance on home ice was simply a far cry from the timid Ryan Ramsay that approximately 2,500 watched last season in his first game against the Peterborough Petes since being traded to the Rangers in January of 2000. Last season Ryan Ramsay was anxious entering Peterborough and playing against his former team, and perhaps more importantly a Peterborough crowd that may have become impatient with the former first rounder's progress. Being a team's top draft pick can put an immense amount of presure on the best of hockey players, being a top pick of arguably the most successful junior franchise. Ramsay can only be commended for giving the Rangers and their head coach: Peter DeBoer a second look at the star in waiting that they ended up trading to the Whalers in exchange for power forward: Gregory Campbell. The first goal came on a Rangers' man advantage with the Whalers down 2-1 in the first period. Ramsay stripped the puck off of Rangers' defender George Halkidis and then proceed to wrap the puck around the net and beat Dickie. Ramsay's second goal gave the Whalers a 2-1 lead in the first period it came on the powerplay, the only powerplay marker that the Whalers would score in six chances. As it has been of late, the Rangers penalty kill was the lone bright light for the team.
Should the Rangers continue to run into former players, it could be a very long season. Two days earlier in Owen Sound, Matt Passfield scored two goals in the first period against the Rangers, on this afternoon it was Ramsay's turn. The odd Monday afternoon game, a special for children drew a very good crowd of 3,329 at the CSA in Plymouth. The Whalers wore their new for '02-'03 Whaler third jerseys for the occasion. Aside from the unorthodox 2:00 start time, the matchup was a huge one for the Whalers and likewise for their fans. The Whalers ranked 6th in the nation (and climbing) got their shot at the Rangers, who are ranked a season-high third in the country, and obviously the chance for capital gains for the Whalers presented itself, along with the possibility to tie the Rangers for first in the conference.
The Rangers got on the board only 2 minutes and 31 seconds into the first period on the powerplay. it was Kanko's second goal in two games, on the third Rangers' powerplay of the period the Andre Benoit beat Paul Drew (who was named second star) with a chip shot which found its way over Drew's shoulder and into the top corner to tie the game at 2 a piece with only one minute left in the period. The two powerplay markers, sandwiched the one powerplay where Ryan Ramsay scored shorthanded. Unfortunately the breaks weren't there for the Rangers who started the game quickly, but started to fade in the second period. Late in the frame a David Liffiton shot bounced off of Andre Benoit's skate and just past Dickie who could not dig the puck out in time. Official Ryan Carroll was in excellent position on the play to varify that the puck had crossed the line. Sean Thompson added an insurance marker in the third period. The Rangers pulled their netminder for an extra attacker with two and a half minutes left on the clock. While they did have numerous offensive zone faceoffs, forced by icings a couple of quality chances, they failed to make the score any close than 4-2 (the final). The Rangers in the end though shorthanded might have fared better if they were more belligerent infront of their veteran netminder, Nate Kiser of the Whalers was highly effective in inflicting pain infront of the Whalers net. For the second straight game Nathan O'Nabigon was more or less a fixture infront of the opposition's goal, especially in the first period, when several screened shots just carromed wide of the goal.
For the first time since injuring his ankle
in a 4-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on December 19th Adam Keefe played,
helping the Rangers ice a closer to regular starting lineup, though a lineup
still missing Derek Roy and Gregory Campbell. The Whalers have not
missed a beat without offensive defensemen: James Wisniewski in the lineup,
he is playing for team USA in the WJC in Halifax and recorded 3 assists
in their game on Monday against Belarus. For the Rangers it was their
first back-to-back loses since losing the first three games of the season
to Windsor (both at home and on the road) and Brampton. Nathan O'Nabigon
was playing his former team the Whalers for the first time as a Ranger.
Ryan Ramsay, Jimmy Gagnon, and Gary Klapowski were all playing their first
games against their former team, the Rangers as Whalers, and of course
DeBoer and Spott were returning to their old home in Plymouth.
Special Thanks to Duct Tape for
the top photo involving Dickie, and to Donna (www.whalewatchersfanclub.org)
for the pictures of Ryan Ramsay