It was a night of perhaps the last freebie for the Rangers as they prepare to run the gauntlet through the final 4 games of the regular season. They have back-to-back games against the league leading London Knights and their number 2 ranked rivals the Guelph Storm, before hosting the Whalers and visiting Owen Sound. After a humiliating loss in Windsor the night before and with the Whalers now right on their heals, the matchup against the Spirit suddenly became extremely important for the Rangers to come away from with a victory. Things did not go as planned in the early going however. Brad Topping who has missed two weeks with an injury prior to playing a scoreless third for the Rangers in Windsor, did not look sharp at all on home ice. Nick Lees, the OHL's all-time leading games played player, scored his 40th of the season and Tom Pyatt scored a flukey goal to give the Spirit a 2-0 lead. With it very apparent in the early going that Brad Topping did not bring his 'A' game, he was relieved by Carlo DiRienzo, who saw little action the rest of the way but was sharp when called upon.
At just over the midway point of the first
period, Patrick Davis who was playing in his first game in two months set
up Nathan O'Nabigon infront of the Saginaw net and suddenly the Rangers
were on the board. In the second period it was Patrick Davis' chance
to score on the powerplay he evened the game at 2 goals each. Michael
Richards minutes later would score the eventual winner on the powerplay.
The Rangers had several chances in the dying minutes of the period to put
the Spirit away, Michael Richards had a clear breakaway and hit the side
of the goal after moving to his backhand in close, Pfliger had to make
several other quality stops to keep the Spirit to within one.
The Spirit were outplayed and badly outshot during the third and final frame, highlighted by a Petr Kanko one-timer which Eric Pfliger slide across the crease to smother. There were several other Rangers who were simply robbed during the third period. Several Spirit players did not have good nights. Tom Pyatt left the ice late in the period with an upper body injury and Mike Suggs was virtually incapable of making his way to the Spirit bench after a collision deep in the Rangers' zone. Sean Grendus first lost a fight to Adam Keefe during the first period and then while trying to stick up for Paul Bissonnette who was taken into the boards hard by Clarkson. Clarkson took the 6'3" Grendus to school as Keefe did during the first period.
For the Rangers it was their 3rd straight victory
on home ice where they continue to play some strong hockey. While
they did not put 69 shots on goal as they did during a 7-6 overtime win
early in the season the Rangers were simply dominant during the second
and third periods. Michael Richards, and Patrick Davis who each had
a goal and an assist on the night were the first and second stars from
the Rangers. Pfliger has played in two losses for the Spirit against
the Rangers, one on home ice and the other in Kitchener in both games he
only allowed 3 goals against. Despite the Rangers 2-9-0 record in
their previous 11 games going into their matchup with the Spirit, Rangers
fans were really the 6th man for the Rangers on this night.