If there was ever a good time to have two of your biggest offensive stars arrive home from Helsinki Finland it might be on Thursday night when the Rangers play their only game of the season in Barrie. Petr Kanko who will be playing in the WJC bronze game on Monday and Michael Richards who will be participating in a gold medal matchup against the American at noon on Monday will be very welcome additions to a Rangers' squad that at times has looked extremely lame offensively of late. The despite playing their third game in only two and a half days with lots of travel involved the Rangers actually looked very fresh in the first period. The Rangers had many glorious opportunities during the first period and really put the pressure on during their first powerplay of the game, though it only lasted just over a minute the Rangers assembled several close calls. The powerplay would be cut short and the Rangers' scoring opportunities would start to dry up.
Unfortunately official: Scott Hutchinson's
work would be the downfall of the Rangers. A marginal roughing call
to Thomas Harrison during a delayed call to Matt Lashoff for high-sticking,
put the Rangers down 2 men for a full two minutes late in the first with
the game still scoreless. Tyson Kellerman who looked very sharp in
the 3-2 loss in Saginaw stopping 20 of 20 shots in a relief performance
looked sharp again. He made one quick toe save and but with the penalties
nearly expired a Rob Schremp point blast found it's way off of Kellerman's
stick blade and into the top of the net, it is unknown if Kellerman even
saw the shot. Just over one minute later Corey Perry burst out of
the Knights zone with the puck, he got the puck to Robbie Drummond who
got a step on Thomas Harrison who was caught flat-footed at the point.
Harrison was able to hook Drummond during the shot but Logan Hunter who
was trailing on the rush took the rebound on the shot and put it past Kellerman
who was well out of the net to cut down the angle.
During the second period, another two-man advantage would again be the catalyst for the Knights. With Patrick Davis already in the box for Checking from behind Adam Keefe took an extremely questionable holding minor. It appeared as if Corey Perry had Keefe's stick and fell far too easily when the puck approached the two. The Knights would take their time and Tyson Kellerman would stand tall, one point shot that made contact with him would actually deflect over the very tall protective netting in London, this time Dylan Hunter would prevail, beating a down and out Tyson Kellerman just 6 seconds prior to the expiration of Patrick Davis' penalty.
Unfortunately for the Rangers the worst would be yet to come. After a mixup behind the goal, Kellerman would allow a terrible shot to sneak through his feet at the side of the net, Bobby Bolt's first career OHL goal. Minutes later Ryan Potruff would follow up with his first goal on a two on one rush created by what may have been a very selfish thundering hit by rookie Matt Pepe just outside of the blueline. Potruff would keep and just barely find the top corner over Kellerman. Carlo DiRienzo would replace Kellerman and the flood of Knights goals would stop. The Rangers only goal of the night would occur during a powerplay late in the second period when Nathan O'Nabigon chopped the puck through MacDonald, the only blemish in an otherwise very good outting for the rookie who was starting his third straight game for the Knights.
Rick Steadman and former Ranger: Scott Sheppard would score during the third period, one where the Rangers looked especially unmotivated. To his credit Carlo DiRienzo rebounded well after a disappointing outing the night before, he made several huge saves which may have gone unnoticed because of the very uneven score which finished 7-1. The Rangers are 1-2 against the London Knights this season, including an overtime win on home ice. The John Labatt center where the Rangers won their final two meetings of the 2002-'03 season, has not been a very friendly place for the Rangers this season they have lost the two games that they have played there by a combined score of 14-3. The Rangers finished the 9 game stretch without the services of Petr Kanko and Michael Richards with a 4-3-2 record, all but 2 of those nine games were played on the road, were they Rangers have played each of their last 4 games, 3 of which were losses.