A youth movement is already very evident on the Rangers' backend where 4 rookies are dressing regularly for the Rangers. The impact of any rookies or even youngsters on the Rangers' forward lines was intended to be minimal with a total of 10 regulars returning to the lineup to start the 2003-'04 season. Unfortunately the Rangers' front 12 have generated many shots during their first 14 games, but not many goals. When impressive rookies: Patrick Davis and Peter Franchin went down with injuries it should have served to take away even more of the offensive bite of the Rangers youngsters. Instead, Anthony Pototschnik and Mike Chmielewski have taken regular shifts in all three games, and their enthusiam has generated scoring chances. On Friday night, Mike Chmielewski parked infront of Soo netminder Cech and gained an assist on a third period goal which gave the Rangers a chance to come back and win. In Erie both rookie wingers made play appear scrambly for the Erie defense.
On Sunday the game went scoreless deep into
the first period when Evan McGrath took a Mike Duco feed and put the puck
around Majors' netminder: Justin Peters. The goal was Evan's third
of the season, but 2nd of the weekend. The second period for the
second straight game would be the undoing of the Rangers. Thomas
Waugh, Jamie VanderVeeken and Cory Vitarelli each scored in a timespan
of less than 10 minutes. The last of those goals was on the powerplay.
The Rangers yielded 16 shots on goal, perhaps one of those shots shouldn't
have beat DiRienzo, and the Rangers simply could not recover as they did
the night before down 3-1. The catalyst for the 3rd goal, and perhaps
the Rangers losing the game was a thundering open ice check by Majors rookie:
Ryan Wilson. Wilson violently laid out Anthony Pototschnik, Michael
Richards took exception, and took an instigator penalty in attempting to
enact some revenge on Wilson who appeared to have the upper hand in the
fight. Richards was lost for 17 minutes total and the Majors scored
on the ensuing powerplay.
Mike Duco appeared to have put the Rangers right back into the game after he deposited a Boris Valabik point shot into the Majors net to bring the Rangers back to within one goal. Immediately after the goal, Carlo DiRienzo took an undisciplined holding the stick penalty which proved costly to the Rangers as Richard Kelly would eventually convert on the powerplay. Cory Vitarelli would seal the Rangers fate on a give and go where the Rangers simply appeared to have abandoned their netminder, it would be his second goal of the game. With the Rangers' veterans still struggling Peter DeBoer elected to use his rookie trio up front on a powerplay with time winding down. Mike Chmielewski scored the first of his season capping off a 2 point weekend, and Mike Duco would add an assist the third point of the afternoon for the bantam callup.
Mike Duco the Rangers' 5th round draft pick in 2003, was named the third star of the game on the strength of his 3 point performance (1-2). Duco has a small #14 jersey, but big shoes to fill wearing the number of the Rangers' #2 all time scorer: Derek Roy. Duco took the place of Cam Fergus in the Rangers' lineup. Nathan O'Nabigon was wearing a full face shield after losing several teeth during the 5-4 loss in Erie. Cory Vitarelli of the Majors had a four point performance (2-2) and was named the game's first star. The crowd of 954 was the highest attendance in any of the first 10 Majors home games.