Some things change with time, others don't. Many of the stars from the Rangers' Memorial Cup champion team: Scott Dickie, Derek Roy, Steve Eminger to name a few have now graduated on to the pro ranks, however the Rangers dominance on the road remains intact. During the 2002-'03 season the Rangers managed to accumulate 50 points on the road - half of their 100 total on the season, and in the process nearly established a new OHL record for wins on the road. The 'new-look' 2003-'04 Rangers all be it, during the pre-season have established themselves as road warriors themselves. A 7-4 win in Barrie, 6-4 win in Brampton and this, a 5-2 victory over the Oshawa Generals.
Despite the dissapointed feelings of many of the Oshawa fans, this game probably should have been over during the first period if it weren't for astonishing netminder exploits of Matt Leduc who had to be simply amazing to keep the Generals off of the scoreboard. The inexperienced and extremely undermanned Rangers' defense made things easy for the Oshawa Generals forwards who appeared to have the Rangers' at their whim, and Matt Leduc had to show up with his best performance yet. Rebounds, goalmouth scrambles all didn't seem to be a problem for the rookie netminder until Tim Filin broke through the Rangers defense alone and fed a soft shot through his legs after opening the five-hole with the hit of a move to the opposite side.
Evan McGrath opened the scoring for the Rangers,
in the first period with a feed from the Rangers' top pre-season scorer:
Jesse Boucher. Perhaps the most amazing goal of the night came off
of the stick of Rafal Martynowski, he received a pass while two-on-one;
his one-timer was thwarted by Gibb, who stacked his pads beautifully to
make the save, unfortunately for the netminder Martynowski was persistent
and slapped his own rebound over Gibb to give the Rangers a commanding
3-0 lead. The Rangers once led 5-0 before the Generals got on the
score board, Tyler Donati, who also scored in the Generals visit to the
Aud brought the Generals within 3, in the dying minutes of the game.
The game was delayed on several occasions due to fog, the officials had the Rangers and Generals empty their benches in an effort to raise the fog. By the end of regulation, the coaches and officials agreed to have time running during stoppages in play as one half of the arena became virtually invisable from the other.
For the first time in the regular season for the Rangers, Deveraux Heshmatpour squared off with Oshawa's Adam Berti (younger brother of former Otters/Sting forward: Chris Berti). The results of the fight were not all too encouraging for Rangers fans as Adam Berti scored a very decisive victory after dominating the beginning, and end of the fight with some fast bombs to the face of Heshmatpour, the two did go toe-toe for a while before Berti gained the upper hand taking Heshmatpour into the ice with a heavy right much to the approval of the 1,500 Generals fans in attendance.
Heshmatpour's subsequent ejection from the
game created a tiny crisis on the Rangers' backend where they had already
lost the services of rookies: Gravelding, and Lashoff to injury, while
veteran defenders: Marcus Smith and Andre Benoit are at pro camps.
The already depleted defense corps was down to a trio of defenders: Matt
Pepe, Boris Valabik, and Nick Duff, David Clarkson would spend his entire
game on the blueline to help. Thomas Harrison is not expected back
for another two months. The forced starts for Leduc who improved
his pre-season record to 1-1-1, and goals against average to 3.00, have
at least for the moment solved some of the Rangers' goaltending woes, as
Biasucci manned the bench but for the second straight game was in no shape
to play. The Rangers' once modest injury problem has become more
of an epidemic as they are still missing the services of rookies, Patrick
Davis and Cam Fergus up front. David Clarkson served as captain,
because Adam Keefe was lost to suspension for being involved in a fight
with under 10 minutes remaining in the previous game against the Colts.
Excellent Game night Photography by: Stephen Gardiner.