|Win could be bittersweet for
the Rangers, Kanko
There's a few long time sayings in hockey. If you have a chance to put away a team, do so, the Whalers might have been guilty of being asleep at the switch in Plymouth on Saturday night and despite a vastly improved effort in Kitchener, they fell short of their goal. The main reason that they fell short of this all-important goal? The smallish netminder at the other end of the rink who's efforts throughout the series gave the Rangers the edge in what could have very easily have been the Whalers 3rd conference title in 4 seasons. Scott Dickie was simply amazing from start to end of the series, his goals against average, a stingy 2.01 puts him at the head of the OHL class in terms of excellence in netminding something special for a veteran who can track his postseason wins by simply looking at a stick which the Rangers decorate with a puck after every win this season. Thus far the total is 12, and there is room for yet another 4 pucks, which the Rangers hope to collect, perhaps without some of the drama that was experienced in Kitchener on this night against the Eastern Conference regular season leaders and playoff champion Ottawa 67's.
The game in many ways paralleled game 5 in many ways, the teams were scoreless for what seemed like an enternity before Campbell stuffed a puck through Drew to give the Rangers a lead while playing infront of an extremely boisterous crowd of over 6,200. The still tame, and extremely nervous crowd rocked the 53 year old Memorial Auditorium. Minutes later the scene of cheering, where suddenly deafened, followed by a deafening chorus of boos from many of the Rangers' fans in attendance. Game 6 hero Peter Kanko was unceremoniously ejected after an alleged slew-foot, resulting in a 5-minute major which carried along with it an automatic game misconduct. The Whalers were unable to score on the 5 minute powerplay which was broken in half by a somewhat careless penalty to: Jonas Fiedler for interference. The Whalers scored for capitalize on the man-advantage as they did all night long, nor did the Rangers. Both teams who had strong powerplays entering the series went 0 for 6.
The tying goal by the Whalers early in the third left many of the 6,232 in attendance stunned! A flukey shot from the corner banked into the net off of Scott Dickie's leg breaking the ice for the Whalers. Derek Roy then missed a beautiful chance that he created while on the powerplay. Sweeping acrossed the crease he was simply unable to gain control of the puck to swat it past Drew.
The eventual winner was anything but a highlight reel goal. Michael Richards shot the puck from the point and it went right through a two-man screen infront of the net. Rafal Martynowski did an admirable job of replacing Peter Kanko on Richards' wing, he joined Nathan O'Nabigon and the line hardly missed a beat. With the building still buzzing from the Richards goal, Gregory Campbell knifed a Andre Benoit rebound over an outstretched: Paul Drew and that was all she wrote for the Whalers who were with few exceptions sufficated from that point onward.
With a suspension potentially on the horizon
for Peter Kanko, the win could prove to be extremely costly for the Rangers.
T.J. Eason who looked very nervous earlier in the series has played extremely
well since the midway point of game 6 in Plymouth. He has seen a
sharp increase in ice time because of the injury to Marcus Smith who played
in the team's first 12 playoff matchups recording 8 points (2-6).
Rangers next action is at home on Friday night against the Ottawa 67's
who won their game 7 on the same night 5-2.
Special thanks to: Duct Tape
for the excellent game night photography.