|Rangers face elimination for
the first time this season
There's an old adage in hockey, if you've done it once before then you can do it again, and it has never applied to the Rangers any more than now. The Rangers have successfully won consecutive games against the Whalers (games 2 & 3) and to stay alive in this postseason they'll be forced to do it again. The Whalers have already once had a 3-2 lead in these OHL playoffs and were thoroughly dominated by the London Knights who led 4-0 after one period and cruised to a 5-1 win. The Rangers can only help for the Whalers to repeat that performance in game 6 at the CSA which during the past two rounds hasn't been overly friendly to the Whalers who have played 3-3 hockey on home ice since their sweep of the Owen Sound Attack in the first round, the Rangers have an equal home record on home ice since their sweep of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The strong suit for the Rangers all season long has to be the team's play on the road, they finished the season with 50 points away from the Memorial Auditorium nearly setting an OHL record for road victories on the way. During the postseason they currently stand at 5-1 as visitors.
The Rangers came out flat in this game, and the Whalers continued where they had left off in game 4, though at times their excitement did lead to penalty troubles. They took 8 minutes in penalties in the first period, including a 4-minute highsticking minor to Jimmy Gagnon would more than redeem himself later in the game. The bulk of that powerplay took place in the beginning of the second period. The Whalers penalty killing set a tone for the game, and took much of the momentum away from the Rangers. The Whalers powerplay while dominate at times ultimately failed to put numbers up on the board, though could take much of the praise for that with his stellar play inbetween the pipes for the Rangers. Dickie who has been super-human throughout the postseason for the Rangers continues to hold his goals against average under 2.00. On one occasion in the third period Scott Dickie, the game's second star was given a standing ovation by many of the 5788 in attendance.
It took nearly 30 minutes of hockey to have a goal scored, as Gagnon was able to outreach a Rangers defender to a loose puck and Gagnon managed to stretch and knock the puck in after a rather generous rebound on a Fiedler shot. Unfortunately the opening goal would not be the only time that the Rangers would hear about their pesky former speedster. The rather anxious home crowd would have to wait nearly 20 minutes later for their Rangers to open up the scoring. Derek Roy while the Rangers were applying pressure in the offensive zone would find the top corner on a spinning shot to knot the Rangers and Whalers at one goal.
The goal brought the Rangers crowd to life, it was a crowd that very vocally voiced its displeasure with the officiating of Terry Hobor who appeared inconsistent in failing to call a hitting from behind penalty on the Whalers in the third period. Shortly prior to the non-call which left center Matt Grennier lying crumpled on the ice, Tim Sestito was carried into the boards by Michael Richards much in the same manner resulting in a Whalers powerplay which came extremely close to putting an insurance marker up on the board. Cole Jarrett got time to work and managed to beat Dickie but not the iron behind him. The Rangers would dominate from that point on.
With the Rangers coming fresh off of a brilliant
scoring opportunity in overtime where they dominated, a loose puck would
fall just out of the reach of all three Rangers forwards with Drew out
of position to make a second save. The Whalers would charge up the
ice and Jimmy Gagnon, the speedy former Ranger would emerge as the trailer
on a two-on-two rush and would beat Dickie with a low blast. It was
the first time since Jason Bonsignore beat David Belitski in 1995 that
the Rangers had lost in overtime on home ice during the postseason.
Special thanks to: Duct Tape
for the excellent game night photography.