It was a night to remember for several Otters during a 7-2 trashing of their hated rival the Kitchener Rangers. The Rangers can only hope that the Otters are stuck remembering this win as long as they were the last time that they defeated the Rangers. The last victory over the Rangers came nearly two full years early in March of 2002, the Rangers only hope that they can start a similar run the next time the two teams meet. The Otters play the Rangers 8 times a season and during the past two the Rangers have made it their business to make those meeting especially gruelling. On this night Chris Campoli broke Carlo Coliaicovo's record set just last season for goals by an Otter defenseman with his 15th goal of the season during an Otters powerplay during the first period. Meanwhile Rob Hisey collected a trio of points during the first and third periods giving him a career high 6 point game (2 goals and 4 assists) in the winning effort for the Otters.
Things didn't start too well for the Otters who have lost each of their last 6 games by a goal (5 of those losses coming in overtime), despite this fact they have crept up the standings to the point where they are now tied (with games in hand) with the Plymouth Whalers for 5th overall in the conference, setting up a possible playoff matchup with the Rangers which would be the first ever for the Otters and first for the two franchises since they met in the opening round of the 1991 OHL playoff when the Otters were known as the Thunder and played out of Niagara Falls. Michael Richards got the Rangers on the board only 44 seconds into the first period when he pounced on a Petr Kanko rebound to score his team leading 28th goal of the season. After the opening goal the Otters ran into penalty trouble, at one point they were down two men and the Rangers called a timeout, the Rangers powerplay would fail to click as it did all night long and the score would remain 1-0 Kitchener but with a heavy momentum swing in the direction of the Otters.
The Otters would draw even when Josh Patterson
would finish a Rob Hisey pass tying the game. Late in the period
it was the Rangers' turn to run into penalty trouble of their own.
The Otters would reel off 3 powerplay goals within a timespan of under
3 minutes. Geoff Platt would score, Ryan O'Mara would score and Chris
Campoli would finish the feeding frenzy in the final minute of the period.
The Campoli goal came on a tripping call to Boris Valabik that would eventually
lead to a misconduct to Valabik and some kind words from coach Peter DeBoer
to referee: Matt Parlette. Valabik wouldn't leave the ice without
making some of his own frustrated noise on the way out.
The Rangers as well as the game started to become more focused on the actual hockey since things were getting extremely chippy at the end of the second period. The Rangers improved focus didn't pay immediate dividends as they were unable to solve Josh Disher until later in the period when David Clarkson finally got the puck into the Otters net and suddenly victory didn't seem all so assured for the Otters. But the Otters got to work early in the third period, a flukey goal by Rob Hisey started another avalanche of Otters goal. DiRienzo who absorbed all 7 goals in the loss got a piece of the puck and then afterwards nearly deflected the puck wide with a desperation leap at the puck. Geoff Platt and Rob Hisey followed up with a pair of powerplay goals to close out the scoring in the second period.
Specialty teams killed the Rangers. The Otters went 5 for 9 on the powerplay and the Rangers 0 for 7 including a pair of two man advantges in the first period and then another that lasted for 1:29 during the third peirod. During the third period Deveraux Heshmatpour was assessed a game misconduct for starting a fight with Tomas Galasek after Galasek made contact with DiRienzo well after the whistle. During the first period Boris Valabik dominated in a scrap with the always annoying: David Herring. Boris Valabik accumulated 17 minutes in penalties during the first period alone. For the Rangers the loss broke their modest three game road winning streak and was the team's third consecutive loss overall.