|Rangers first team in OHL to
reach 40-win plateau
There has been a lot of buzz about the Rangers this season in Kitchener and why not? Playoff starved fans are looking to this season for the Rangers to break out of their postseason slumber and at absolute minimum expect the team to break through the first round of the postseason a feat which has not been accomplished in Kitchener since 1997 when the Rangers ventured to the league semi-finals before getting eliminated in 6 by the eventual champion: Oshawa Generals. Something that the Rangers hadn't done in even a longer period of time was collect 40 wins in one season, the last time that the Rangers broke 40 was in 1988-89 when they had 41 wins, were league champions but unfortunately were ousted in 5 games after a bye in the first round. Breaking 40 in the 80's was a somewhat regular occurance for the Rangers, starting in '81-'82 the Rangers reeled off 3 consecutive 40 win season culminating in a 52 win season in 1984, a record which which stood for only one season before getting bettered by the Greyhounds: 54. The Rangers still are chasing league history and the 24 road win season record established by the Ottawa 67's in '98-'99.
After slip-ups by both the 67's and Whalers, the Rangers entered the game the only team in the OHL still perfect against the Ice Dogs, a team who entered the night just a single-point up on the Kingston Frontenacs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for the Ice Dogs who are in dire need of any points to secure the team's first playoff birth did not receive any mercy from the Rangers who returned home for the first time in three weeks. Jesse Boucher, who took Nathan O'Nabigon's spot on the Michael Richards' line twice wandered around Ice Dogs defensemen and slipped the puck past former Rangers' netminder: Matt Harpwood whom has recently taken over top netminder duties over incumbent overager: Miguel Beaudry. The first of those two goals is shown in the picture up top. Derek Roy then scored at the 8:21 mark of the first period to give the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead. This goal, the Rangers' 7th shot on goal was Roy's 25th of the season, giving Roy 4 consecutive 25 goal seasons, the Ice Dogs had yet to register a shot on the clock at this point. Mississauga coach: Steve Ludzik quickly made the decision to replace: Harpwood, the decision appeared to spark some life into the Ice Dogs Rob Schremp would score his first of two goals on the night, but before the period would end: Paul McFarland would net his 5th of the season. By the end of the night Schremp would have 3 points and be named the game's 2nd star for his strong two-way play.
Something which probably surprised Rangers' fans is that the Ice Dogs would outshoot the Rangers 28-17 over the final two periods of action for an overall advantage of: 39-31, something which does not often happen in Kitchener, infact most teams nearly get doubled up in shots when they visit. Dan Rudisuela scored the only powerplay goal of the game in the second period which brought the Ice Dogs within two, the Ice Dogs powerplay only had three opportunities through the duration of the game. The Ice Dogs came close several times late in the third but veteran netminder: Scott Dickie closed the door when necessary, which unfortunately for the Rangers had to be often. Micheal Richards and Derek Roy (with his second of the game, and third point) put the Ice Dogs away early in the third. Schremp and O'Sullivan would score late to make the score a respectable looking 6-4 but it was another case of too little, too late for the Ice Dogs.
Nathan O'Nabigon missed the first of at least three games with a
hip injury. Chad McCaffery is back skating but did not play.
The Rangers dressed seven defensemen and Andre Benoit often saw time up
front, playing forward. The Oshawa Generals fell in Kingston putting
the Ice Dogs a single point out of a playoff position.