|Dickie wins final career regular
season game in hometown
Rangers overage top netminder Scott Dickie has had his share of problems in his hometown of London Ontario, learning that he wasn't going to be the starter in what would be his final regular season game in London couldn't have been anything short of dissapointing. After a weak wrister beat rookie: Carlo DiRienzo who otherwise had a very strong period DeBoer elected to go with the veteran netminder in the second period. While not overly busy himself, Dickie did hold the fort including a sequence of stops in the third which without a doubt may have turned the tide in the Rangers favour. His night nearly ended prematurely in the third period just over 3 minutes in when he got involved in a scirmish in the corner and nearly was greeted by big 6'6" London netminder: Gerald Coleman - who's unbenounced arrival was only impeded by one of the linesmen. Aside from being prone to a beating, both Dickie and Coleman would have both been ejected from the game.
Playing infront of 8732 in the brand new John Labatt Centre the Knights got started quickly, with Chad McCaffery in the box the Knights coverted on the powerplay quickly, Stathopolus beat DiRienzo on a feed from Dennis Wideman. For the Knight it had to be a morale victory, scoring quickly after DiRienzo had frustrated them in a 6-4 victory on December 14th, infront of a significantly smaller London crowd. Arguably DiRienzo stole that game for the Rangers and was nearly unbeatable in the third period despite the many, many shots the Knights sent in his direction along with the zone advantage that the Knights held against the Rangers who were missing veterans like: Roy, Eminger, Boucher and Eminger which they had on this night. The Knights entered the game as one of the hotest teams in the OHL, and they thoroughly proved why on this night DiRienzo had to fight vigrously to keep the Rangers who appeared frustrated against the Knights, unable to gain posession in the offensive zone against a team which had won 5 straight and was undefeated in 6 overall. At the end of a very strong period, Carlo DiRienzo let a Dennis Wideman shot from the blueline deflect off of the cross bar and in. This goal caused DiRienzo to get the hook for the second time in two starts, Scott Dickie started the second period and as he did in Brampton didn't allow the opposition to score giving the Rangers more than ample time to make the comeback.
Late in the second period Steve Eminger scored his first goal, on a powerplay on a setup which probably had Gerald Coleman's head spinning, along with head coach Dale Hunter at the London Knights bench. The tick-tack-toe play gave the veteran defender his first since returning from the Washington Capitals, Eminger would later add an assist on the man advantage to continue his two point a game pace since returning to the Rangers. The Rangers would tie the score early in the third while on a line change, newcomer Boucher would feed Richards who's changeup shot seemed to fool Coleman who had the puck trickle through his legs. The comeback was on and the Rangers were beginning to take it to the Knights. Late in regulation defender Dennis Wideman who played over 30 minutes, was forced to take a hooking call on Roy who had a step on him going into the towards the net with Campbell. The Rangers powerplay which in the past two weeks has been upgraded from good to downright scary didn't take it's time to convert after a timeout called by coach DeBoer. Derek Roy lost Danny Syvret with a nice deke and emerged from the corner unharassed, changing from forehand to backhand roofing the puck over Gerald Coleman's shoulder and into the top corner of the net. As the officials did in Sarnia, they quickly grant the Knights a powerplay in return, even with their netminder out to give them a six on four advantage the Knights didn't register a high-quality scoring chance and Michael Richards would seal the deal with an empty netter, his second goal of the game.
Because of his strong two-way performance on
the wing, Gregory Campbell was given first star honors. Michael Richards
scored a pair, keeping pace with Roy who scored and added an assist.
Roy is still 3 points back of Richards in the Rangers point race.
David Clarkson was a scratch serving a suspension. Because of the
Rangers inability to maintain posession of the puck when crossing the opposition
blueline, Matt Grennier who has very illusive speed was used on just about
every Rangers line in order to give the team a bit of an edge. Matt
Manias saw very limited ice time, because of the depth the Rangers enjoy
on defense. To change things up Steve Eminger was often paired up
with George Halkidis on the man advantage as opposed to using Andre Benoit,
who's name was constantly pronounced as: ANN-Drie during the game.
The Rangers powerplay (2 for 6 on the night) improved to 5 for 12 on the