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Breathing room against the Attack?

Rangers take 3-straight over Attack and season series

John Ceci and two teammates attempt to find a deflected shot.

The Rangers came two points closer to reaching the century mark on the season and exorcised a demon a the same time.  The Attack have provided the Rangers with some rather mighty competition over the course of this season.  Along with losing to the Attack once at home as well as an embarassing 8-2 loss in Owen Sound, the Rangers have needed the benefit of overtime to defeat the Attack twice and their only other win over Owen Sound was a 2-1 nail bitter.  On this night they actually were the beneficaries of a David Clarkson insurance goal, a funny shot which barely made it past netminder: John Ceci along the ice striking the far post before barely sneaking over the line while many Attack players watched the painful spectacle, none were close enough to do anything about it.  It was a very odd close-checking game, and while it seemed fitting that the Rangers should go up 3-1, the weak goal was hardly an indication of the stellar play of veteran netminder: John Ceci, whom is easily the most important acquisition that Attack GM Mike Futa made at the trade deadline.  Ceci was named the games' second star behind Kitchener's Derek Roy who scored the winning goal but was a threat every time that he was on the ice.  Always modest John Ceci, formerly of the Ottawa 67's, enjoying starting duties for the first time in his career with the Attack had to be coaxed to center ice by public address announcer: Dave Schneider to pick up a prize package at center ice, Rangers fans have him a round of applause for his strong efforts.

If Mike Sothers were to organize a game plan for defeating the Rangers who stand alone atop the OHL standings, he'd probably comment that you need to keep players out of the box, after Brad Richardson pounded a rebound in past Scott Dickie the Rangers went on to reply with two powerplay goals in the second half of the first period which turned out to be the difference.  The two goals took place on the Rangers newly revamped powerplay, which for the time being has shown success striking in 2 of 4 opportunities in this game.  Michael Richards scored his team leading 37th of the season to tie the game and then Derek Roy followed up with his 27th goal of the season to take the lead, a lead the Rangers would not relinquish.  The Rangers would score their only two goals on the powerplay in a 2-1 win over the Attack in a January as well.  Aside from scoring the winning goal, Derek Roy looked in vintage form and may have had a hattrick if it weren't for the netminding of John Ceci who turned away 28 of 31 shots in his third loss in three starts versus the Rangers.

The Rangers netminding situation didn't appear to be as clear-cut as the Attack's, with the Attack up 1-0 and 7 shots on the board, Peter DeBoer elected to yank Scott Dickie for the second time in three games, replacing him with Carlo DiRienzo, as he did on Sunday night Carlo gave a strong effort off of the bench for the remainder of the first period.  DeBoer then started the second period with Dickie again showing a high level of confidence in his veteran netminder.  The Rangers have now won 4 consecutive games were they have trailed and changed netminders!  In addition, in the past five games where the Rangers have swapped netminders, the Rangers haven't allowed any goals against.

The Owen Sound Attack perhaps frustrated at losing a crucial game or perhaps with lingering thoughts of the Rangers antics at the tail-end of a 8-2 blow-out at the hands of the Attack, started to rough things up a little.  Many of the 5,975 in attendance may have thought that Patrick Jarrett's unaided colleison with Scott Dickie would have caused more chaos in the late going of the third period, but cooler head prevailed.  The Rangers as they have most of the season, with the notable exception of up in Owen Sound during their last visit (a 3-2 Rangers overtime victory) sufficated the Attack once they elected to pull netminder: John Ceci clogging the neutral zone, not even permitting the Attack to get the puck over the blueline until an icing was called with 20 seconds remaining causing John Ceci to return to his place in the crease of the Attack net.

The Rangers were again experimenting with line combinations, Evan McGrath left his post as center of the third line, joing the Rangers top line on the wing.  The win for the Rangers was their 20th in the division were they have a dominating record of 20-3-2.  The win also earned the Rangers a season series win over the Attack 4-2-0, with two overtime victories, one on the road and the other on home ice early in the season.