|First time in four tries the
Rangers keep Attack pointless
The Owen Sound Attack entered the game much like the Rangers did the last time that they visited the Bayshore in Owen Sound, shorthanded. 1st and 3rd top scorers: captain Patrick Jarrett and former Ranger: Matt Passfield were out of the lineup. Perhaps more importantly for the Rangers netminder: Marty Magers whom has terrorized the Rangers with a 2-0-0-1 record against them thus far this year, just prior to the trade deadline, the Attack dispatched his rights to the Sudbury Wolves. Magers must have felt as if he was indeed playing the Rangers as he was named top star in the Wolves 1-1 tie with the Toronto Majors the night prior.
The Owen Sound Attack have severely renovated their team, perhaps even into a contender, probably the best news for the Attack faithful is that they have not mortgaged the teamís future in doing so, the Attack enter the 2003 OHL entry draft with not one, but two second rounder draft picks, a month ago they had none. The upgrades to the Owen Sound Attack are primarily on defense, where the team has dispatched Dan Rogers to the Belleville Bulls, and acquired Pat Sutton, Dan Growden, as well as: Dustin VanBallegooie whoís suspension just ended. Up front they added Andre Deveaux of the Belleville Bulls, Juris Stals of the Sarnia Sting, and Alex Lalonde whom the Rangers are very familiar with after he scored his first career goals in his first OHL game against the Rangers in Owen Sound on December 28th. Perhaps the most monumental change came between the pipes, where the Attack added OHL three-year veteran: John Ceci who came from the Ottawa 67's in a trade for a 4th rounder at the deadline. Ceci whom has quietly been working on a very high-quality OHL season, was promised that he'd be traded to somewhere where he'd be a starter in the OHL prior to the trade deadline, to this point in the season Ceci had been sharing duties with Lukas Mensator, an import from the Czech Republic.
The Rangers after being humiliated 8-2 in their last visit, must have been out looking for some revenge although 5 of the dressed Rangers: Boucher, Roy, Campbell, Eminger and Keefe were not involved in that loss. The Rangers didnít take it to the Attack the way they took it to the Rangers, however they played a strong road game and came out on top. The Rangers were close down 2-1 entering the third period in their last visit before a barrage of 6 Owen Sound goals sunk the Rangers. Prior to the opening puck drop all three of: Steve Eminger, Derek Roy and Gregory Campbell were honored in front of an Owen Sound crowd of 2535 which would be considered strong considering the weather conditions. White-out conditions were reported throughout the Grey and Bruce countys, on this day.
The Rangers were benefited from two early powerplays. On the second one, Andre Benoit wristed a shot from the faceoff circle as the Rangers powerplay evolved into a diamond formation with much of the attention going to Eminger at the center of the blueline. Benoit's shot seemed to have eyes as the was not much space for the shot to maneuver past Ceci who appeared to have the angle covered. The Rangers had finally struck early on the Attack, something that they had failled to do in the previous three meetings agsinst the Attack. The lead would be very short lived however, the Attack on their first powerplay of the night only minutes later would strike back and would not take their time in doing so. Andre Deveaux would win the offensive zone faceoff back to Giordano, who passed to the opposite point Growden's point shot would be deflected past Dickie who didn't stand a chance into the top corner of the net by the 6' 5" Andre Deveaux who took the time to step infront of the net, and deflect the puck into the top corner.
Along with some top notch netminding, the powerplay would be the story on this night. Andre Benoit struck again in the second period on the man advantage, this time Benoit was positioned at the center of the blueline when he unleashed his shot. Perhaps unleashed isn't the correct word for what Benoit has been doing with the puck in recent weeks. Benoit's quickness, release and deadly accuracy are what makes his shot so dangerous to opposing netminders. Benoit has been quietly accumulating some very impressive offensive numbers, infact ones similar to what he'd be capable of he he still played up on one of the Rangers' forward lines. Benoit's 12th and 13th goals of his season along with his very steady play in his own zone were good enough to give Benoit first star. Andre Benoit is currently on pace to score 20 goals on the season, which would make him the first defender since Allan Rourke who scored 31 goals in '99-'00 to break 20 in one season.
After Benoit's second goal the Rangers tightened up defensively, something that Peter DeBoer had been concerned about prior to Derek Roy and Gregory Campbell's return to the Rangers lineup. The Rangers were still winning games without two of their star forwards, but they were also allowing an incredibly high amount of goals against. Though they failed to pad their lead the Rangers did play a textbook road game against a team which has proven to be a very tough opponent for many teams of late. The Attack going into this game were unbeaten in six games, a run that started shortly after an explosive 8-2 victory over the Rangers. Scott Dickie who was left off of the three star list had an excellent game, and had to make several difficult saves, infact 26 of them on 27 total shots.
The Rangers powerplay which has fizzled going
into the weekend was the bread and butter for the Rangers. The Rangers'
only offensive output came on the man advantage in Owen Sound, and on Friday
night the Rangers also scored a pair of goals including the winner, in
all 3 for 8 over the two games. The win enabled the Rangers to take
sole possession of first place overall in the OHL for the first time this
season, gaining a one point lead over the Ottawa 67s and Plymouth Whalers
whom each have two games in hand over the Rangers. Derek Roy added
two assists in the Rangers win.