The Rangers terrible run of losses stopped the same way as it started, on a Tuesday night against the Guelph Storm. The shortstaffed Rangers pulled it off with on of those gutsy playoff-like efforts which left nearly everyone of the 5,600 plus in attendance feeling energized on their way out from the Memorial Auditorium. Sometimes these turnaround efforts require a catalyst, and on this night his name was Petr Kanko, he came through in the biggest of ways giving the Rangers their first two leads of the game, the second of which would not be relinquished, and also contributed an empty net goal to seal the deal in the dying seconds. It was a night of long overdue victories. The Rangers had lost each of their previous three meetings to the Storm on home ice, this season, starting with a Thanksgiving Day meltdown and most recently the 5-2 Storm victory that kick-started the Rangers 6 game losing streak. Petr Kanko even got another shot at an empty net after misses on home ice against the Otters and on the road in Oshawa he was able to make good on his opportunity in Kitchener for the hat trick. Most surprisingly was probably the fact that his empty net goal was from a terrible angle and was far from assured until his speed gave him the edge in getting to the loose puck which had been cleared down the ice.
Petr Kanko got the ball rolling very early
in the first period when he powered his way out from behind the Storm net
and wrapped the puck in arond Dennis. The Rangers then caught a bad
break minutes later when a puck hopped its way over the stick of a Rangers'
defender and Jakub Koreis was able to pounce on the loose puck and tie
the game at one. Soon after his offensive contribution Koreis would
find himself entangled with Ranger rookie forward: Peter Franchin.
The Rangers powerplay would get to work early in the second period.
A Petr Kanko feed found its way through the legs of Dennis with a deflection
and the Rangers were again on top. Richards brought the crowd to
it's feet after zipping a Jesse Boucher feed past Dennis giving the Rangers
a two goal cushion. The Storm controlled the period from that point
onward, they received a powerplay after a tripping minor to Alex MacDonell
and while they were unable to make good on the man advantage, they were
able to take advantage of the tired penalty killers working the puck around
DiRienzo until finally scoring with under a minute remaining in the period.
With the Rangers still playing a defensively conscious game through the third period and killing off several Storm powerplays and some timely stops by DiRienzo, who's play would be rewarded with a second star selection, the Rangers fortunes were on queue for a turn for the better. Matt Lashoff found Paul McFarland streaking in from the lefthand side and once McFarland received the pass he snapped the puck top shelf on the blocker side for his 12th of the season, restoring the Rangers 2 goal lead, a lead that would eventually lead to a 5-2 victory.
The Rangers improved their record against the
OHL's second best team to 2-4-1 on the season, having already lost the
season series with their cross-town rivals. The only game left between
the two teams is on Storm home ice where the Rangers have enjoyed a moderate
amount of success posting a 1-1-1 record in three visits thus far this
year. Michael Richards scored his team leading 30th goal and added
a pair of assists. Boucher had a trio of assists, but it was Kanko's
night, leading the Rangers with 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) and he was
named first star. Dan Paille who had to contend with Alex MacDonell
much of the night was the third star, he assisted on the second Storm goal
and was a constant threat as usual. The Rangers had to make due without
the services of: David Clarkson, Craig Voakes, Deveraux Heshmatpour and
Patrick Davis, all of whom were out with injury. These injuries prompted
higher than normal ice times for Mike Chmielewski and Peter Franchin who
played alongside: Evan McGrath..