|Powerplay back on track??
The once thought to be struggling Rangers' powerplay powered up in a big way in the first, they took 8 seconds and then 27 seconds on back-to-back opportunities in the first and ended the night 2 for 5 on the man advantage. The Rangers appeared to be poised cruise to an easy victory when David Clarkson scored giving the Rangers a 4-0 lead in the late second period. Unfortunately things went sour in the third period and the breaks stopped going in the Rangers' direction. While shorthanded Steve Eminger appeared to have sprung Peter Kanko on a clear break, which he scored on, unfortunately it was immediately called back due to what was later proven by the Rangers' video scoreboard to have not been a two line pass. Shortly after the goal Dickie was bumped into the net and Daniel Paille scored the Storm's only powerplay marker in four opportunities. Niko Tuomi who played in a league-high 70 games this season, floated a shot over Dickie's shoulder with just under 3 minutes remaining in regulation. The Rangers finally caught a break late in the third when Tuomi whom had just brought the Storm back into the game was assessed a interference penalty. The penalty was on a hit to Gregory Campbell where he had made contact well prior to reception of the puck, Tuomi was so frustrated by the call that he smashed his stick over the net, narrowly missing netminder: Andrew Penner drawing a 10 minute misconduct in addition to the two minute minor. The call was probably in response to an uncalled hit from behind on David Clarkson, which drew many booes from the over 6,000 in attendance.
The Rangers boisterous crowd of 6067 was the biggest playoff crowd in Kitchener since 1997, coincidentally the last time that the Rangers made it past the first round. Gregory Campbell has been a big boast to the Rangers offense this postseason, he continued where he left off in the first round opening the scoring for the Rangers tipping an Andre Benoit point shot past Penner into the top corner. Campbell has now scored in all 5 Rangers playoff games. One constant about netminder Andrew Penner who deserves much credit for keeping the Storm in the game despite allowing 4 goals on 32 shots is that you have to get to him early or risk not getting to him at all, and the Rangers did their part before he shut the door and threw out the key. It is notable that Kanko did score on him prior to the goal being called back and the Rangers erratic shooting in the late second and early third seemed to be a little off, as was the Storm offense in the earlier parts of the game. Niko Tuomi wasn't the only Storm to draw big cheers with a 10-minute misconduct, Rangers fan favorite: Ryan Thompson, who was responsible for a painful sucker punch on the Rangers' Derek Roy late last season drew a misconduct of his own for blowing a gasket with an official in sight.
After a sensational playoff home shutout streak that extended nearly 8 periods, Scott Dickie allowed Brett Trudell to score on a bad angle shot by Daniel Paille that handcuffed the Rangers netminder, leaving the puck sitting in the crease. Trudell knocked the puck over the goalline just as Dickie was about to fall on it finally putting the Storm on the board, starting what must have seemed like an avalanche of goals for the Rangers netminder who allowed the same amount of goals in the entire first round of the playoffs against the Greyhounds.
Rafal Martynowski and David Clarkson both scored while playing on a line which had either Derek Roy or Michael Richards double-shifting to center. Eventhough the Rangers are 5-0 in the postseason, it is surprising that two of their top goal scorers during the regular schedule: Richards and Kanko remain scoreless through all 5 games, though Kanko did appear to have scored in this matchup. The top unit of Derek Roy (2 goals), Gregory Campbell (5 goals) and Evan McGrath (3 goals) continues to dominate the opposition accounting for an average of two goals a game.
For the first postseason game Steve Eminger played a regular shift,
there is no mistaking his oversized shoulder pads which have him looking
more like an offensive linemen than a freewheeling defenseman but he contributed
with a very solid game finishing +1 with an assist on the powerplay.
Prior to this round Eminger had only seen time on the Rangers' powerplay
in order to nurse his injury, though the Rangers did claim that he could
handle regular contact. As the Storm have been doing all postseason
they outshot the Rangers by a margin of 41-32, but the Rangers held the
lions' share of the scoring chances in this one. They were constantly
capable of marching the puck right in on netminder: Penner and the many
of the Storm's shots were from the perimeter which was heavily guarded
by the Rangers veteran defense. The Rangers return to Guelph, where
they enjoyed a 3-0-0-1 record during the regular season on Sunday night
for game 2 of the best of seven.
Special thanks to: Duct
Tape for the excellent game night photography.