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Finally some breathing room up top


 
 
Rangers take rough and tumble affair in Oshawa
 


Kanko finally squeezes the puck past Kevin Druce who came in, in relief
of Beckford-Tseu and shut the Rangers down for nearly a period and a half.

The Rangers have been under tremendous pressure lately, being ranked number in the OHL has made every team in the OHL target them, and the pesky Ottawa 67's nor the Plymouth Whalers have seemed overly interested in losing lately.  This weekend a weekend which saw the Rangers play 4 games in 5 days, missing several of their star players while doing so was nothing but positive, with the exception of the game against the Sarnia Sting.  Both the Whalers and 67's lost two games during their three game weekend stretches, allowing the Rangers to open up 6 point leads on both teams.  Further evidence of the Rangers' strength was the unusually large standing room only Sunday crowd.  The 3753 who attended the game in Oshawa was only bettered by the 3891 which took in a loss against the rival Peterborough Petes on New Year's day.

The Rangers took the starch out of the big crowd very early Andre Benoit scored on the Rangers first three powerplays which took place in succession in the first period.  Benoit's 18th of the season and team leading 11th on the powerplay got the Rangers rolling and there wasn't much the Generals could do to stop them.  Rafal Martynowksi who was the Rangers' official Derek Roy decoy on this night was dancing all over the ice and Adam Keefe who is red hot found Martynowski, which gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead.  O'Nabigon pounded the puck past Beck-ford-Tseu only minutes later and the Generals along with their fans were in a state of shock!  The already frustrated crowd really showed its displeasure with official Jamie Koharski when it finally appeared as if the Generals might go to the man-advantage while down 3-0, and Koharski called a diving minor against Nathan Horton who was once thought to have been the top prospects in North America.  After some timely Scott Dickie stops on the Generals powerplay late in the period another highly rated by already drafted prospect wowed the Oshawa crowd, be sneaking past defender Tyler Cook shorthanded and then undressing the starter Chris Beckford-Tseu, who really wasn't to blame for any of the Rangers goals.

Coach George Brunett did the obvious and replaced the Generals starter with Kevin Druce, who actually played the role of starter for much of the season before.  The Generals finally found their way on to the scoreboard late in the second period.  6 foot, 7 inch center: Matt Maccarone launched a rocket at Dickie which caught a piece of Dickie's glove before finally ending up in the top corner of the net.  Ahren Nittel who was acquired from the Windsor Spitfires for a 2nd round draft pick scored soon after and the big Generals crowd quickly errupted, Nittel scored his second of the game early in the third and suddenly the result of the game was in doubt.  Nittel, a Waterloo native who has missed much of the beginning of the season, after his two goal performance now had 11 goals in 11 games with the Generals, something that the New Jersey Devils who drafted him must be very satisfied with.  The goal came just seconds after a two-man advantage has expired for the Oshawa Generals.

Peter Kanko, who was named the second star of the game led the Rangers out their funk scoring from the side of the crease, and the Rangers for the first time in nearly a period and a half had scored on Druce who allowed the Generals to get back into the game with his solid play.  The Rangers then had an excellent penalty kill, where they nearly scored once shorthanded, and also came close to a breakaway as well.  When it was the Rangers turn to head on the man-advantage Michael Richards put the game away ripping a shot into the top corner capping off an excellent 4 point performance which saw him named the games' first star.  Richards who will bid for OHL player of the week with his 8 points (4-4) in three games leads the Rangers 74 points.  The goal was also the Rangers' 6th on the man-advantage in the past 3 days.

The rough and tumble affair quickly degenerated with time running out in the third period.  First, Harrison nearly got into a fight with both Horton and Eager and had to settle for a win over Eager in the end.  With the seconds ticking down Nittel ploughed over David Clarkson who did not have the puck at center ice before landing an elbow along the boards and soon everyone on the ice was fighting.  Both Sellan and McFarland were ejected for being involved in second fights after the whistle, both will be suspended for two games each.  Something that was only necessary after Koharski decided to turn a blind eye to King's earlier hit.  McCaffery after suffering an apparent knee injury on Saturday afternoon did not dress, and was replaced in the lineup by Nick Duff who did not see any ice time.  The Rangers are still perfect against teams in the OHL's toughest divsion, the East, they are currently 7-0 against teams in the divsion with 3 games remaining two of which are against Bill Kinkel and the Kingston Frontenacs.
 

Exceptional game night photography done by: Duct Tape.
 

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