The Rangers and Plymouth Whalers each had the most important game's of their respective seasons' in Kitchener on Friday night and as they did the year before the Rangers came up on home ice with a game seven 3-1 victory in game seven in Kitchener. The Rangers duplicated that effort with a severely depleted lineup, with a 3-1 victory over the Whalers on the second to last game of the season. And somehow the story line in the game was also the same. The first period scoreless, and the second with the Rangers taking a lead at the midway point of the period. The loss proved especially costly for the Whalers who lost David Liffiton late in the third after taking an instigator penalty during a stopage in play. At game's end Plymouth coach: Mike Vellucci took a gross misconduct after addressing Steve Webb.
After a tough start in Guelph, Brad Topping
was in goal again for the Rangers, but he seemed better prepared on this
night. Both teams seemed to be much prepared for a game of defensive
gridlock rather than the wide open 10-4 and 7-4 games that the two teams
had been involved with earlier in the season. The Rangers felt out
the Whalers for a short period of time prior to cranking up the intensity,
they had the stronger first period of the two rivals, but could not beat
Paul Drew who looked sharp in the Plymouth Whalers' goal.
Matt Lashoff got the ball rolling for the Rangers with a powerplay marker midway through the second. The Whalers got to work on their own powerplay later on in the period: Andrew Fournier was the marksman for the Whalers who scored late in the two minute minor. Michael Richards gave the Rangers' a 2-1 lead late in the period. The Rangers dominated the third period peppering: Paul Drew with 15 shots. Even McGrath who has struggled to put the puck in the net, came extremely close to scoring but still isn't catching the breaks around the opponents net. Andre Benoit put the game away midway through the third slipping the puck under Drew's arm, where there appeared to be no room after streaking in off the wing during a Whalers' line change. The only action afterwards was a fight between David Liffiton and Boris Valabik, which resulted in a game misconduct for: Liffiton after picking up the instigator penatly.
The victory put the Rangers 2 points ahead
of the Plymouth Whalers, and allowed the Rangers' a chance to go into Owen
Sound and clinch home ice during the first round of the postseason on Saturday
night. The third period was filled with Plymouth penalties, which
appeared to have infuriated Whalers' coach: Mike Vellucci. Thomas
Harrison rejoined the lineup, Patrick Davis in all likelyhood played his
final game of the season in Guelph where he reinjured his collarbone.
For Topping the back to back complete games were a first since the month
of January. He was the game's third star.