September 10th, 2004
The Rangers continued in their exhibition schedule undefeated. Unlike the previous two matchups this game didn't come down to the wire, not even close. The Rangers on the strength of adding a pair of veteran forwards: Adam Keefe and Michael Richards, simply steamrolled their way over the Battalion who were missing a similar amount of their star players. The only resemblance that was their from their previous meeting only 4 days earlier was Stuart Simmons, the Battalion veteran blueliner being involved in a scrap in the second period. In Brampton it was Mike Duco, in Kitchener he was better challenged by: Joe McCann, who may have held the edge on him with only 12 seconds remaining in the second period.
For the third straight exhibition game, the Rangers held a decided edge in their hitting. While Mike Duco was out there causing havoc as usual, Matt Pepe landed an absolutely thunderous hit during a 2-on-2 in the third period with the Rangers shorthanded, he stopped backing up and just labelled the Battalion forward at top of the circle depth. The Rangers got rolling on the powerplay early in the first, Matt Pepe's wrister, his first goal as a Ranger beat Machesney. 1st round pick Luch Aquino replied for the Battalion with a wrister which brought the Battalion back to even terms. Myles Applebaum set Justin Azevedo up infront of the Rangers net restoring the Rangers lead, again on the powerplay.
The Rangers broke things open in the second
period. Team captain Michael Richards, playing in his first pre-season
game seemed to be the catalyst for a period of hockey that the Battalion
would sooner forget. He stole the puck from a rookie Battalion defender
and wowed Rangers' fans with a top corner backhand over Machesney's shoulder.
Richards and Keefe tormented the Battalion powerplay throughout the first
period threatening to score several times. Voakes scored the next
pair of Rangers' goals, the second coming on a beautiful one-timer set
up by Justin Azevedo who had already scored in the first period.
Mike Duco finished the Rangers flurry of goals, making the score 6-1 Rangers.
Wojtek Wolski replied for the Battalion late in the second period, but unfortunately this one was out of reach at that point his shot (shown above) illuded DiRienzo who may have been slightly screened by his defenders. Adam Keefe finished the scoring by corraling a lose puck and snapping it past Machesney. For DiRienzo it was a solid game that at times appeared a little spectacular, he stopped 31 of 33 shots through an entire 60 minutes. The Rangers have gone down to a pair of netminders, after cutting Mark Packwood who recorded a shutout in his first Jr. B start. Carlo DiRienzo, who might be a little on the superstitious side, had his helmet pained with a Kiss theme as he did during his rookie season and also changed to primarily dark blue equipment, also of note is his interesting choice of numbers, surprisingly he's not the first Ranger to wear #49, but definately the first netminder (Andrew Dale wore #49 for half of the 1995'-96 campaign)
Specialty teams were primarily to blame for the Battalion setback, each team enjoyed 8 powerplays, the Battalion had several two-man advantages which lasted in excess of one minute, and failed to score. The Battalion were 0 for 8 and the Rangers 4 for 8 despite the notable absence of outstanding quarterbacks: Matt Lashoff and Andre Benoit. The Rangers outshot the Battalion 45-33. Surprisingly the cuts to Mike Chmielewski and Chris Bryson who going into the game were responsible for 2 of the 5 Rangers' goals to this point in the schedule, had virtually no effect on the Rangers ability to score, something they appeared to do at will during the second period.