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Rangers nearly blow 5 goal lead vs. Colts

Rangers led 5-0 before the Colts narrowed the deficit to 1 in the third

Paolo Coliaicovo, who dominated in the Rangers 4-3 overtime
loss earlier this season sprawls to make a stop on O'Nabigon.

The Rangers looked excellent early jumping out to a 5-0 led, before the Colts swapped netminders and dominated the second half of the game, scoring four to draw within one, the game's result one which should have been evident early in the second period was in doubt prior to Michael Richards' slapshot finding the top corner on netminder: Thomas Lee.  Richards' goal would be the first and only goal the Rangers would score on Thomas Lee in 28 shots.  Rangers fans may be familiar with Thomas Lee from his relief performance early last season while with the Erie Otters, unfortunately the cause of that relief performance, a groin injury to starter Adam Munro would eventually lead to the end of the promising young netminder's season once Munro had returned because the Otters had taken the opportunity to acquire T.J. Aceti from the Oshawa Generals in the interm and Aceti had performed so well.  In fact when the dust had cleared Aceti led the Erie Otters to their first OHL Championship, and was named top netminder in the Memorial Cup tournament in May.  Unfortunately for Lee, who has looked so promising in his two trips to the Memorial Auditorium in the past two seasons he has yet to find a permenant home in the OHL.  The Barrie Colts are going with three netminders, alternating backup duties between the aforementioned: Thomas Lee and Michael Ouzas, another 18 year old nemtinder.

The Rangers' start wasn't overwhelming but the shots on goal in the first were, the Rangers peppered 22 shots on Paolo Coliaicovo who held the fort until Benoit beat him at the tail end of some powerplay wizardry by the Rangers.  For Benoit it would be the first of 2 powerplay goals on the night, and it would be the second time in two games that he would accomplish this feat.  Benoit now leads all OHL defenders with 15 goals, 9 of which have come on the man advantage.  His defense partner was no slouch on this night either.  Steve Eminger who is only playing in his 4th game of his young season notched 4 assists, giving him 8 in total this season, most will credit Benoit's rapidly increasing goal totals to attention placed on Eminger, giving the undrafted 18 year old who attended the New Jersey Devils camp this past fall a little extra time and space to do his thing.  His thing in this case is rapid-release seeing-eye wristers, with a few slapshots mixed in to keep opposing forwards honest.

With things under control and the Colts only down one goal, Derek Roy struck twice just prior to the Rangers entering the dressing room.  The first of those goals came on the man advantage, and then with Campbell in the box due to a fight with: B.J. Crombeen, Adam Keefe assumed the wing position on the top unit and feed Roy for another goal, the two goals came 18 seconds apart, easily the quickest two scored by a Ranger this season.  Things appeared to be degenerating quickly for the Colts whom have lost their last 7 going into this one, as O'Nabigon and Shennan quickly dropped the gloves after the 3-0 goal.  Surprisingly cooler heads would prevail, and the Rangers even without two of their top scoring wingers would continue to take it to the Barrie Colts after the intermission.  Peter Kanko and then Andre Benoit with his second of the night, and the Rangers 3rd on the powerplay despite only 4 man-advantages to that point in the game, would chase Coliaicovo.  Paolo Coliaicovo clearly didn't bring his 'A' game, and the Colts rely heavily on the big rangey netminder to win many of their games, the fact that a season-high crowd of 6,136 showed up did not help the situation.  The Rangers would finish the night 3 for 6 on the manadvantage.  

David Clarkson battles with B.J. Crombeen
late in the Rangers 6-4 victory

With Lee in net the Colts seemed to gain some of their composure, formerly the OHL finalist, and even more recently the Central divsion leaders the Colts regained their balance and struck twice late in the second period.  Eric Himelfarb beat Dickie, followed by a very excited: Malcolm MacMillan whom has run into the Rangers in each of their last abbreviated playoff runs while playing for the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds and last season as a member of the Guelph Storm.  The Rangers got some reprieve when the one of the Colts played a puck too close to their bench and got called for too many men by official Matt Parlette, the Rangers wouldn't do Parlette any favours later, as their powerplay was winding down they deflected a shot from the high-slot which struck Parlette in the face and force the final minute of the second period to be added to the third, Parlette would not return.

The Colts would begin the third period the way they ended the second.  Crombeen on the powerplay followed by Himelfarb with his second of the game brought the Colts back to within one and they weren't even past the 5 minute mark of the third period.  Michael Richards took the wind out of the Colts' sails with a wicked slapshot that the linesmen correctly called a goal.  Things got rough at the end of the period during a play stopage, 2 members of each team made their ways to the penalty box high-lighted by a fight between David Clarkson and big Colt tough guy B.J. Crombeen.  The Rangers though they had several chances, one thwarted by a diving Jeremy Swanson failed to convert on the empty Colt net late in the game.

With their 8th consecutive loss, the Colts fell to 7th in the conference only 3 points ahead of the surging Kingston Frontenacs who are now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.  With a come from behind 2-2 tie against the Petes the Ottawa 67's managed to salvage a point, and the Plymouth lost 3-2 to the red hot Kingston Frontenacs at home, so the Rangers gained on both of their first place overall rivals.  The Rangers powerplay now operating at 21.5% is now ranked 6th in the OHL, the Rangers penalty kill (87.6%) continues to be ranked 1st.  Chad McCaffery and Nick Duff were scratches due to the numbers game.

Exceptional game night photography done by: Duct Tape.