The Rangers entered their tilt with the Erie Otters needing a win to secure their third straight winning weekend. Only one week after Carlo DiRienzo took the reigns blanking the Toronto Majors, the Rangers needed yet another strong effort to oust their division rivals. In the words of Rangers radio personality: Gary Doyle "Carlo owed them one," afterall it was the Otters on October 2nd who defeated the Rangers 4-3 leading to a string of 6 consecutive games inwhich DiRienzo did not start. And while the result was more likable in Kitchener, a 6-3 victory for the home squad, the Rangers simply had a more dominating effort as a team in Erie, meaning that DiRienzo had to really step it up to secure his next start. He did, during the third period DiRienzo stopped 14 of 15 shots, allowing the Otters only one even-strength goal in the process. DiRienzo allowed the Otters to beat him once, he wasn't going to allow them to do it again, Chris Greene beat DiRienzo once in the first period, during the second Greene would take a breakaway, this time Carlo would have the answer: robbery (who said that a guy wearing a 'Kiss' mask is going to be ethical in net?).
The Otters, while a perfect 5-0-0 on home ice
have struggled on the road with only one win in 5 matchups going into Kitchener.
The Otters odds of victory would have appeared smaller due to their playing
their third game in two and a half days (having played back-to-back games
on home ice the previous two nights) . For the second straight game
the Otters went with their backup: Jhase Sniderman, who in the early stages
didn't seem to have the answer for some of the Rangers snipers who took
liberties during the first period. Andre Benoit broke his stick while
shooting from the point on the man advantage, the puck still managed to
continue through Sniderman, midway through the period Andre Benoit would
break through the Otters defense while the Rangers played shorthanded tucking
the puck through the five-hole while backing into the young Otter's netminder.
Rookie: Justin Azevedo several minutes later would score a pretty one leading
many to believe that a romp on a tired Otters' team was in order.
Like many of the Rangers' recent foes the Otters didn't really roll over after a strong Rangers start. Immediately after the 3-0 goal, Justin Piquette made the mistake of provoking Otters' overager: David Herring, who laid a vicious beating on the Rangers' rookie. After picking up some momentum from the scrap, the Otters got their push when Devereaux Heshmatpour was given a minor for high-sticking. Chris Greene while playing on the Otters second powerplay unit directed a puck through DiRienzo. Rob Hisey who had a trio of points the last time these two teams meet, caught DiRienzo on the give-and-go in the second period reducing the Rangers' lead to one goal. McGrath had the tonic that the Ranger so desperately needed, only 39 seconds later his line with some persistent effort would back the puck over the goal line on the Otters. The second period was highlighted by a couple of defensive efforts by the Rangers including a breakaway stop by DiRienzo and a fine play by Jakub Kindl who disrupted a late period two-on-one rush.
During the third period the Otters were advantageous on the powerplay again, Derek Merlini found Sean O'Connor with a cross crease pass which was directed into the back of the Rangers' net narrowing their lead to one again. The insurance marker, an extremely odd goal would be the result of a goalmouth scramble with netminder Sniderman caught out of position on the rebound, Mike Duco (as seen above) had to force Ryan O'Marra's skate into the puck to legally push it into the net as his stick as tied up. Evan McGrath would finish the scoring on a two-on-one break on the empty net, he'd keep and make little mistake. The Rangers finished 2 for 4 on the powerplay, while the Otters were a respectable 2 for 5 with one shorthanded goal against. Andre Benoit and Craig Voakes would both have three point afternoons. Carlo DiRienzo had a very busy third period, and was solid through 60 minutes.