In 1995-'96 the Rangers swept the dreaded three game in three night Eastern road trip, and they still have yet to do it again. Until this season, the trip into the old East where 4 out of the 5 teams have opposite side benches and play in some of the most unique arenas in the OHL, the trip couldn't be described as much less than a minefield, with a night mare like ending against the always strong Ottawa 67's. This season has been different, the entire OHL East is struggling, infact the each of the five teams trail the Midwest's Erie Otters significantly in points as the teams near the halfway point in the schedule. Though the high-flying Rangers did enter the trip on a season high 10 game unbeaten streak, the Rangers also started the trip crippled by injuries and losses to the Canadian and Czech national junior teams. For most of the weekend they played without half of their top two offensive and defensive units. Somehow it didn't seem to matter to a Rangers team which hasn't struggled too much with adversity, but was also blessed with incredible depth up front. The likes of Patrick Davis, Adam Keefe, and Paul McFarland pressured the 67's relentlessly while in the offensive zone.
19 year old netminder: Tyson Kellerman is carving out a reputation for himself as Mr. afternoon. His only two afternoon performances have resulted in 1 goal games, each time holding the opposition scoreless until the third period, and no differently than the Rangers' matchup against the Erie Otters Kellerman was first star as he stood tall stoping 38 of 39 shots in his direction. 5 of 6 points seemed inprobable at the weekend's start, only after the smoked had cleared in Ottawa, around the 15 minute mark of the third period, did it set in that the conceivable was now reality. The Rangers would continue on their unbeaten streak increasing the total to 13 games (9-0-4) seeing some impressive efforts along the way.
Andre Benoit, who would most likely call the
Ottawa Civic his home OHL arena was a surprise starter for the Rangers
on the blueline. He was cut earlier in the day and made the trip
to Ottawa by plane to help the Rangers to victory. Despite being
late in arriving, the always pleasent defender granted the Ottawa radio
crew an interview. His play spoke for itself, he assisted on each
of the first three Rangers goals and registered a plus two on the afternoon.
He was the third star in the view of the 67's radio broadcasters who select
their three stars independantly of the house stars. Andre has had
an interesting habit of rebounding on disappointment, the morning of this
game, he was cut from the national junior team. On the night that
he was cut from the Toronto Maple Leafs' rookie camp, he compiled a record
8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) during the season opener.
Jesse Boucher and Nathan O'Nabigon after a couple of lackluster efforts in both Kingston and Belleville really stepped up, they both appeared to be playing with much more passion and desire. Both were on the ice pressuring the inexperienced 67's defenders and both were also on the ice for each of the first three Rangers' goals. In fact Boucher scored two of the first three goals, one on the powerplay the other at even strength during the first period when he deflected a seeing-eye point shot by Andre Benoit. Marcus Smith scored his third goal of the weekend to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead early during the second period while on the powerplay, his 5 goals this season are just one short of his career high of 6 set in 2001-'02. The 4 on 3 man advantage occured with Jeremy Akeson serving a 5-minute match penalty for slewfooting behind the Rangers' goal early in the second period. Referee: Sean Reid appeared to be very unpopular with the sparse crowd which was announced at 8,376. Brian Kilrea was assessed a bench minor during the first period leading to a full two minute two man advantage which the 67's killed of successfully. Reid really raised the ire of Ottawa fans when he effectively sent Corey Locke to the shower with just under 3 minutes left in the game.
The Rangers have won each of their last 6 games against the 67's, including 4 straight during the 2003 playoffs to claim the Robertson Cup in May. Danny Battachio has started each of the two games versus the Rangers. Regular 67's starter: Lukas Mensator was attending a WJC camp. The 67's had their teddy bear night against the Plymouth Whalers on Friday, they like the Rangers were playing their third game in three days, they had won their previous two including a 6-0 thrashing of the Frontenacs in Kingston.