The top two offenses in the league went head-to-head in Guelph. What more could an OHL ask for? Try one of the greatest rivalries in the OHL, if not the best. The Rangers and Storm have taken turns over the last two seasons at eliminating each other from the playoffs, and in 2001 the Storm stopped the Rangers' quest for a playoff spot short in a meaningless home game. What was more, the Rangers entered the game in a three-way tie for first overall in the OHL with Plymouth and Owen Sound who had both played 2 games more than the Rangers, but the Storm had a glorious chance to lay their claim on 1/4 of the lead league in points. Still only 2627 had the interest to show up in Guelph, many of them Rangers fans on Thanksgiving Sunday. The Rangers persevered, though their effort was not the stuff of dominance that lead them to a 9-2-2 record over the Storm during the 2002-'03 season and playoffs combined. Kitchener left Guelph with 2 points, sole possession of first place, as well as the top rated offense and top rated defense in the league.
Things started innocently in the highly anticipated matchup. Controversy wouldn't be far behind though. Jacub Koreis, the highly touted Phoneix Coyotes first round draft pick, formerly property of the Rangers, pushed Boris Valabik who inturn appeared to have hit one of the Storm players from behind. When referee Terry Hobor assessed an interference penalty to the Storm, the entire Storm bench was incensed to the point where they took an additional two minute bench minor. The Rangers did not waste any time in getting on the board during their full 2minute, 2-man advantage. David Clarkson beat Adam Denis after gobbling up a rebound on a Matt Lashoff point shot. The Rangers had a lead only 2 minutes into the game.
The Rangers would then take their own turn to fall back on their heels. After an accidental high stick clipped Martin St. Pierre, Matt Lashoff was given a 4-minute minor for the infraction and the Storm would go to work on the powerplay. Matt Ryan put a shot past DiRienzo, who had no chance on a Daniel Paille feed. DiRienzo would change the momentum of the entire game, later on when Matt Ryan would break in on him all alone and try to deke DiRienzo who put up both gloves stick-side to make the stop.
Things got interesting in the second period
where the Rangers were outshot 13-7, aside from the shots on goal it was
probably the Rangers' best period of the three. Marcus Smith got
things started exactly at the midway point of the period. Both teams
were on a line change when Patrick Davis and Jesse Boucher broke in on
a two on one. Davis managed to flip the puck over the diving Storm
defender, Boucher would do a great job knocking the puck down and getting
a shot on goal. Unfortunately for the Storm Denis left a rebound
sitting on the outside of the crease and ever the opportunist, Marcus Smith
waltzed in to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Just prior to the goal
the Rangers had enjoyed a second two-man powerplay advantage where Michael
Richards had several brilliant opportunities for one-timers where the puck
just wouldn't settle.
In the second the Storm were quicker to reply on the Rangers. Nick Duff chased Tyler Haskins behind the goal and brought him down. Kyle Spurr managed to pick up the puck during the delayed penalty, and dance right out infront of DiRienzo uncontested and beat the 17-year-old netminder with a shot to the top corner. The backbone for the Kitcheener Rangers during their 4 game winning streak has been the play of their number 3 forward unit, centered by: Paul McFarland. With only a minute remaining in the second period he fed the puck out from behind the Storm net to Jesse Boucher who made no mistake riffling the puck into the top corner. The goal was, his second in two games, and also second of his season. The assist by Paul McFarland extended his points streak to 5 consecutive games. Jesse Boucher, assisted on the previous Rangers' goal and was named the games' first star.
The Rangers who haven't allowed more than 2 goals in any of Carlo DiRienzo's starts with the exception of game one against the Whalers, made Jesse Boucher's goal stand in the third period. The Rangers were forced to ice the puck many times, especially with time winding down. Both the Storm and Rangers called timeouts with the Storm net empty. Immediately after a faceoff with 30 seconds on the clock David Clarkson cleared the puck and was fortunate enough to be on target for the Storm net, it was his second goal of the game.
Petr Kanko missed his second straight game
with an ankle injury. Deveraux Heshmatpour dressed for the Rangers
who used 7 defenders in the place of winger: Mike Chimelewski. Carlo
DiRienzo won his 5th of six starts to earn a share of the league lead for
wins with Mississauga's: David Shantz. The Storm return to Kitchener
on Monday after to continue part 2 of the home-at-home thanksgiving weekend
series with the Rangers.
Excellent Game night Photography by: Stephen Gardiner