|Two straight shutouts for Scott
Throughout the season one of the biggest consistencies of the Rangers has been that the team seems relatively indifferent to playing on home ice or on the road, the Rangers picked up 50 points both in and away from the friendly and lately relatively loud confinds of the Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener. Perhaps this indifference is unimpressive to fans who are more than aware that the Rangers hold home advantage through the entire playoffs. Consider the perspective of Greyhound fans, the 'Hounds are down 2-0 in the series and face the daunting task of playing the OHL's strongest road team, who fell only one win short of the OHL record of 24 wins set in 1999 by the Ottawa 67's. The Greyhounds are in a world of trouble and the absense of Trevor Daley from the lineup does little to help things for the Greyhounds who are overwhelmingly underdogs against the Rangers. En route to the Rangers' only Memorial Cup victory John Vanbiesbrook was minding the Greyhounds net and not just having left the team in disgrace. Much like in 1982, netminding is far from an issue for the Greyhounds, overager: Adam Munro has at times been spectacular, on Saturday night he had to be sharp as the Rangers pounded 52 shots on him, including 21 in the middle frame. The Rangers scored twice in each of the first two periods, and Derek Roy after a somewhat lackluster regular season was back in form scoring or assisting on all Rangers goals.
Aside from Roy's heroics, Scott Dickie again stole the show, creating a wall of stone infront of the net and often benefiting from a Star Wars like force around his net. Dickie's 2nd straight shutout somehow upstaged his amazing performance in game one which lead to a standing ovation by Rangers' fans, in the third period Dickie faced 17 shots, after facing only 8 in each of the first two periods. There were several instances where many fans along with the Greyhound bench felt that they were going to score for sure, it was almost as if a hex was on the red team from Northern Ontario, especially in the third period where they really tested the Rangers lengthy shutout streak, not so much in order to get back in the game, but in order to get a mental edge on the Rangers going into game 3 in the Soo. Derek Roy was named first star and while it could be argued that Dickie's performance rivaled the three-time team point leaders', the significance of Roy's goal which opened the scoring and three assists were of greater importance since Dickie's most difficult stops came in the third period where the Rangers were outshot 17-14 but with the score 4-0.
While the impression might be that the Rangers' scoring was a one-line onslaught, nothing could be further from the truth. Two of Derek Roy's points came while playing with wingers: Evan McGrath and Gregory Campbell and the other two came with Roy skating between David Clarkson and Rafal Martynowski. Balanced scoring was somewhat of a theme throughout the regular seaosn for the Rangers as they managed to have seven different players collect 20 or more goals during the course of the season. In the postseason the Rangers have had 5 different goal scorers, both Campbell and Clarkson have two goals a piece. The only ingredient missing from the Rangers' attack appears to be the powerplay which as it did in last spring's playoffs has faced a power outage. The Rangers have only scored twice on 14 opportunities (14.3%) including lengthy two-man advantages in game's one and two. The Rangers failed to generate much in their early 5-on-3, however were completely dominant on an abbreviated man advantage late in the second period, blasting shots at will on Munro, with one second remaining Gregory Campbell finally beat Adam Munro giving the Rangers a commanding 4-0 lead.
Marcus Smith who had another extremely strong game defensively along with contributing to the Rangers' offensive twice was named third star of the game and has arguably been the best Ranger outside of the crease in the first pair of games. In the first game of the series, Marcus Smith launched a shot that found its way through the five-hole on the powerplay, and on Saturday night gained two assists. Most importantly with Steve Eminger being absent from the Rangers' defense with the exception of on the powerplay Marcus Smith has handled increased duties and ice time on the Rangers blueline with poise and has been physical when required. One of the highlights of the game had to be a second period tilt between the Greyhounds' Matt Herneisen and Nathan O'Nabigon, O'Nabigon appeared to hold the advantage in the lengthy punchout getting Herneisen's helmet off quickly, however did miss some time getting repairs in the second period, returning for the third.
The series now shifts to the furthest locality from Kitchener in
the OHL, the Soo. The Rangers will faceoff against the Greyhounds
in consecutive nights on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before returning
home if necessary for a game 5 on Friday night. The Rangers last
led a series by two games in 1997, 3-1 when they were on their way to defeating
the Sarnia Sting in 7 games, unfortunately the Rangers took their time
in devouring their prey that season a lesson that this edition of the Rangers
can ill afford to learn that lesson the hard way. Sweeping the series
is something that is far from a remote possibility, shutting out the Greyhounds
through an entire series is another thing entirely, its a task which has
to be Dickie's goal at this point, already being half way there at this
point in the series..
Exceptional game night photography
done by: Duct Tape.