It was an awkward night at the Aud, for the first time since the Rangers played the Plymouth Whalers during the conference finals in the postseason the Rangers genuinely looked perplexed on home ice. The cohesive group, many of which enjoyed a trip to Quebec City this past May throughout the first two periods, looked selfish, out of sync, and in general out of their element against a Toronto Majors team whom has struggled out of the gate, and despite the win, remain in last place in what is supposed to be a very competitive Central division.
The play of the Rangers was not the only oddity on this nights, perhaps CBC analyst: Don Cherry should have been in attendance to witness, both of the Rangers' import "enforcers" at work during the first and second periods. Peter Kanko dropped the gloves with Conner Cameron after a rather long skate with the Toronto forward which started on the Toronto icing line before proceeding to the neutral zone, where Kanko got the upper hand on Cameron. Late in the second period, popular rookie Rangers' defender: Boris Valabik had enough of the stick work of fellow import: Michal Pesek and drilled the young Major for his trouble, Pesek left with a cut due to what was yet another awkward looking Valabik fight.
The Rangers dominated the opening minutes of the game, giving the fans plenty to cheer about after Andre Benoit was recognized during the opening ceremonies with a plaque for his incredible record tying 8-point effort against the Whalers during opening night. The Rangers also had a powerplay where they failed to score despite many chances. The powerplay which entered the night operating at 31%, was inaffective in 5 opportunities, including one in the third period where the Rangers had a chance to tie the game. The Majors, notably their captain Tim Brent, who was named the games' 3rd star after netminders from each team, took the starch out of the standing room only crowd of 5,743 after the six minute mark when he deked DiRienzo who simply ran out of room in the Rangers' crease. The Rangers looked frustrated but still managed to outshot the Majors 16-6. Justin Peters looked sharp, and it didn't hurt when he got some bounces in his favour. Perhaps some of those bounces were caused by an experienced defense who simply prevented the Rangers from getting to many rebounds while their sophomore goalie was recovering after a save.
During the second period, frustration set in for the Rangers who got involved in many after whistle scrimishes. After a lackluster start the Rangers top unit who was responsible for scoring 3 goals in each of the Rangers previous two games, saw extremely reduced ice time during the second period. It was extremely inconvienient that 2 year center Evan McGrath found his way to the box along with Nathan McIver for 10 minutes, leaving the two off of the ice for the later half of the second period. Chad McCaffrey, who was to suit up for the Rangers and have a role on the Rangers' centering the third line. Through most of the second period, the Rangers' were missing their top two pivots and it was reflected in puck possession since the Rangers did not appear overly capable of winning faceoffs without them. Unfornately some sloppy play by the tandem of Andre Benoit and Matt Lashoff led to the Majors second goal, an unassisted tally by Craig Foster, which started with Foster stripping the puck from one of the Rangers defenders behind the net before slipping it under DiRienzo's arm, as the Rangers' netminder stretched across the crease.
After what must have been a frank discussion by head coach: Peter DeBoer during the second intermission the Rangers took to the ice with some fire in their eyes. A strong forecheck by the Rangers' third line consisting of Keefe, McFarland, and Martynowski, led to an opportunity to Adam Keefe which exited the top corner of the net as quickly as it entered. Peters was finally beaten, however the Rangers despite many goal mouth scrambles during the final frame where they blasted a game-high 23 shots on the Toronto netminder simply could not repeat the feat. DiRienzo was also called upon to make some quality stops in the third period as the Rangers' opened up the game in an effort to scoring the all important game tying goal. In the final minute they were able to remove Carlo DiRienzo from the goal, however neither team was able to score, and the game finished 2-1 Majors. Justin Peters was an obvious choice as first star after only allowing one goal on 49 Rangers shots. DiRienzo wasn't nearly as busy, but had to be sharp during several Rangers' breakdowns to keep the team in the game, he earned second star honors.
After one day of practicing 19-year-old: Joey
Biasucci's back tightened up on him, and for the fourth straight regular
season game he was unable to dress. Rookie defender: Chris Gravelding
has been deemed healthy however did not dress for this game. Chad
McCaffrey, returned to the Aud in what may be his last ever game in Kitchener
after being traded to the Majors exactly one week earlier. McCaffrey
wore the number 27, and fans were quick to applaud a thundering Nathan
O'Nabigon hit that he was on the receiving end of.
Excellent Game night Photography by: Stephen Gardiner