It took 27 powerplay chances, but it finally happened, and perhaps at a very opportune time. Nathan O'Nabigon who subbed in with his old linemates: Petr Kanko and Michael Richards on the Rangers top powerplay unit provided the most thrilling goal of the night. Richards put the puck up to Kanko who hit the zone with a burst of speed, that speed drew the lone deep defender to him, leaving O'Nabigon in the open to fill the partially open net and send the 5939 in attendance into yet another frenzy. Come from behind wins have been all of the rage during the Rangers past 15 games on home ice where they have posted a 12-0-2-1 record. They battled back against the London Knights and won in overtime after being down 3-1 and also had an inspirational 7-6 overtime win over the Saginaw Spirit after trailing 6-2 at one point. It might have something to do with pair of italian netminders that the Rangers have utilized in DiRienzo and Biasucci. In this one the Rangers were the ones who fell short though it wasn't for lack of effort in the third, they had the Sting on their heals and could have accumulated much more than 2 goals during the final frame.
The Rangers did struggle out of the gate and
arguably some of the veteran players struggled throughout the game.
Brad Topping for the second time in two starts was relieved after two periods,
he looked shakey and if nothing else DiRienzo seemed to have the hot hand
for the Rangers of late. With just less than 10 seconds remaining
during the third period he made a spectacular toe save to enable the Rangers
to go to overtime. Jesse Boucher also struggled he seemed to be fighting
the puck most of the night as well as struggling for ground against a very
physical Sarnia Sting team. Boucher who had assumed a role alongside
Kanko and Richards on the Rangers' powerplay was replaced by O'Nabigon
during the final man advantage that the Rangers would enjoy.
After starting the game looking unprepared for a very intense matchup with the Sarnia Sting whom had tied the Rangers and lost in their two previous meetings, the Rangers started to get their legs during the second period. Much of their progress was negated when Daniel Sisca skated in two on one with Craig Foster; he used Foster as a decoy and beat Topping with a weak glove-side wrist shot. The wrister was litterally the only option available since Thomas Harrison had effectively played the odd man perfectly taking away both shooting and passing lanes with a dive.
Again, members of the Rangers extremely popular third line of McFarland, Keefe and O'Nabigon were catalysts for the Rangers' gains. Andre Benoit walked in an scored while they were on the ice during the first period. Paul McFarland really gave the Rangers some momentum in the third with his 9th goal of the season. And then there was the late game powerplay heroics of Nathan O'Nabigon who was absent from the remainder of his linemates playing with the teammates that made him so effect throughout the playoffs and into the Memorial Cup in Quebec.
Dan Fritsche, who spent a good portion of the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets provided the overtime heroics for the Sarnia Sting snapping the Rangers 10 game overtime unbeaten streak (4-0-6) along with their home ice unbeaten streak. Fritsche and Foster stormed in two on one with the Rangers throwing literally everything they had at Ryan Munce who stood his ground. Unbelievably Michael Richards and Evan McGrath whom were exhausted on the play were the only Rangers back on the play.