There's an old saying that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, the Rangers, the young Rangers' blueline, which has been decimated by injuries and departures of their top minutes played man: Andre Benoit. Still, if there was any team in the OHL that wouldn't mind the assistance of an additional exprienced defender, but even against seemingly impossible odds the Rangers seem to keep on winning or at least tying their opponents, virtually none of the games lately have not been close, nothing will put an exclamation point on that fact any more than the Rangers four consecutive overtime performances on home ice.
The defenders continue to prevail and the leaders on the blueline, Benoit, Smith, Harrison, Valabik and Lashoff, for 4 of the last 5 games they've had to make due with two of those 5 defenders out of the lineup. Even with the current success of the Rangers who still sit 3rd in the division as well as third overall in the OHL, some rest to fix the broken, and rest for the weary whom couldn't possibly desire more ice time, veteran defenders such as Andre Benoit who have been on the ice in excess of 40 minutes on some nights.
After one of the best Rangers' netminding performances
against the 67's in Ottawa the previous Sunday, Tyson Kellerman wasn't
up to the task in the early going on Friday night in Kitchener. After
just over two minutes, and only two shots on goal, the Rangers were down
2-0, and it was obvious that the big Rangers' netminder did not bring his
'A' game for this matchup against the Sudbury Wolves the first time this
season. The return matchup, the Rangers' first game after the just
over week long Christmas break, will occur in Sudbury. After the
two early goals by the Wolves the second of which was set up by former
Rangers' winger: Rafal Martynowski. Chanse Fitzpatrick potted the
first goal from the blueline and big 6'7" center: Matt Maccarone scored
the second on a rebound. The Rangers looked unusually slow to start
the game, but outshot the Wolves making the game very familiar looking
to their matchup against the Kingston Frontenacs just one week earlier
where they also started Tyson Kellerman and ended up down 2-0 after one
The Rangers appeared to be more upstart during the second period. Powerplay's would give the Rangers the little boost that they needed. After a point shot Andre Benoit would sneak in and bat the rebound past Beech who had effectively shut down the potent Rangers' offense which has including this game had scored 4 or more goals in 4 of their last 5 games despite missing top pivot: Michael Richards who is with Canada's World Junior squad; in the one game that the Rangers failed to score 4 goals, they provided 3 goals of offense against the Kingston Frontenacs in a 3-3 tie. Nathan O'Nabigon who has continued to struggle around the opponents goal, narrowly avoided being pushed into the far post, which would have pushed the net off, negating the goal. Jeese Boucher, scored his 5th goal in 3 games late in the period to finally bring the Rangers even, he picked up an Evan McGrath feed on yet another Rangers' man advantage. Boucher has seemed to have a knack for finding his way close to the opponents net of late, potting goals whenever possible.
Just when it looked as if everything was going right for the Rangers late in the second period, Boris Valabik was trapped up ice and a two on one resulted. Andre Benoit dove to nulify the pass, he did stop the pass temporarily, but Sean Langdon who was attempting to make the pass was able to halt his momentum stop and pick the puck off of Benoit's hands while Benoit was still on the ice and wip the puck top corner on DiRienzo. It would be the only time that the Wolves would beat DiRienzo who played over 60 minutes including the overtime. The goal with less than 30 seconds left in the period would give the Wolves the momentum heading into the third period.
Craig Voakes scored his 10th of the season, while centering a line of McFarland and Keefe, and as time winded down it was obvious that the Rangers were on the way to overtime, somewhere they were more than familiar with during their 15 game unbeaten streak. The Rangers and their fans had enjoyed overtime games 9 out of the 15 games during their streak, yet surprisingly they are not the OHL's OT kings, yet the Barrie Colts still retained that reputation. Once the Rangers headed into overtime, they seemed to fire at will against Sudbury netminder: Kevin Beech, the 6th shot was the one that sunk the Wolves. Nathan O'Nabigon who has been slumping lately put a hard wrister on goal from an angle which crawled over the goalie and back into the net granting the Rangers victory at the halfway mark of the OHL's 68 game schedule.
With his overtime goal, Nathan O'Nabigon became the 7th Ranger to have reached the 10 goal plateau by the midway point of the season, center Evan McGrath stands close behind at 9 goals. The Rangers are now 10-0-5 or unbeaten in their last 15 games, including a stellar 9-0-2 in the last 11 starts for the newly acquired: Tyson Kellerman. Adam Keefe who has displayed a very strong effort in all games that the Rangers have been without some of their stars was rewarded with the game's first star, he had one assist. Evan McGrath led the Rangers with three assists on the night but was not recognized with a star.