It was as if the Rangers made two additions to their lineup on Sunday afternoon, Mark Fraser joined the Ranger blueline giving them for the first time in a long while 3 full lines of defenders, meanwhile looking back even further on the backend Carlo DiRienzo backstopped after a 2 week absence. DiRienzo did get some playing time in a 4-1 loss in Plymouth, but entered the game with the score 3-0 in favour of the Whalers. The bigger of the two Rangers' netminders has rode the pine for a while now, and with this start he really grasped the brass ring! He turned away 25 shots and in the process helped the Rangers' penalty kill leap from 19th in the league all of the way up to 13th, killing 10 powerplays including three two-man advantages. For the Kitchener Rangers team it was the first regular season shutout since February 14th of 2003, for DiRienzo it was his first personal shutout since he blanked the very same Majors on November 10th of 2002. For the Majors who have been dominant on home ice in recent team history have now lost 3 of their last four at home, including a 1-0 shutout loss to the Belleville Bulls.
A rather large contingent of Rangers' fans
made the trip to St. Michael's, and were fairly vocal throughout the game.
The Rangers' offense sputtered in the first period, an excessive amount
of penalties would contribute to that result. Craig Voakes, who has
now scored in three straight Rangers' games got an Andre Benoit feed and
zipped the puck directly into the top corner before Justin Peters could
even make a move towards the direction of the puck. The Majors only
one minute later, threatened to erase the Rangers' goal, while the Majors
had their netminder out on a delayed penalty to Jack Combs for tripping,
Matt Pepe took a player into the boards with some authority, and drew a
minor for boarding, and the Rangers were down two-men for the second time
in the first period. They caught a break when Toronto defender: Scott
Lehman was called for holding the stick.
After a slow first period where the Rangers were only able to put 6 shots on goal, the Rangers sought out for a dominant second period. They did have 4 powerplays, and there was a stretch of 10 minutes where DiRienzo didn't see any rubber, the Rangers didn't score and unfortunately when he did see some action it was ugly, Ryan Rorabeck got around Andre Benoit who was trying to single handedly stop a 3-on-1 rush that was taking place, Carlo got a piece of the puck, but as it sat in the crease behind him, Benoit was able to give his netminder and hand and clear the puck to the red line. The clear resulted in an immediate stoppage in play since Benoit was assessed a slashing minor on the play. Later in the period it appeared as if the Rangers would take a two-goal lead. Mike Duco (finally playing without a full-face shield), seemed to have a goal that would break open a two-goal lead late in the period, a period that the Rangers would outshoot the Majors 16-3 in. Duco was at the side of the Majors net during a scramble and many thought that he had scored, but Peters made his way over and Duco wasn't able to get the puck up fast enough, Craig Voakes was fooled to the point that he had his stick in the air in celebration.
Hard luck forward: Paul McFarland entered the
night pointless on the season, in the first period he was roughed up by
defender: Chris Cunningham. In the third period, McFarland finally
got the monkey off his back, scoring during a scramble during a third powerplay,
his shot just barely squeezed past Peters and over the goal line.
After scoring 2 goals and 4 assists in the Rangers last two games, Evan
McGrath was held pointless. The shutout for DiRienzo helped him push,
Justin Peters out of 3rd place in the OHL for goals against average, DiRienzo's
is now 2.21 behind both Ryan Nie and Gerald Coleman. Justin Azevedo
was not feeling well on gameday and did not dress for the Rangers.
Mark Fraser, in his first game with the Rangers asserted himself infront
of the Rangers' net well in his first game, he wears #6. Valabik,
Clarkson, Lashoff and Gravelding continued to be out of the lineup for