Somehow history nearly managed to repeat itself as the lowly last-place Saginaw Spirit came to town. The Rangers got down despite a wild shooting edge and had to pile in the goals in order to ensure their victory. Mike Brown, as he was during their previous matchup was the obsticle that threatened the Rangers unbeaten run over the Spirit on home ice (4-0-1). Starting the game with a 12-2 shooting edge would usually mean good news on any night for the Rangers it meant a 2-0 deficit, something that they would only start working on, at around the halfway mark of the second period. Marek Kvapil (acquired with what was the Rangers' first round import draft pick) took a cross-crease feed from Rick Caughell and snapped it past DiRienzo for a 1-0 lead. Former Rangers' defender: Thomas Harrison had the second assist on the opening goal. Minutes later with the Rangers still applying the pressure, the Spirit broke into the Rangers' zone and increased their lead to two goals. Defender: Dan Idema, souped a backhander over DiRienzo's glove and the suddenly the capacity crowd in Kitchener appeared stunned. One more reason to be stunned as a Rangers' fan was the stellar play of netminder: Brown.
The Rangers' faithful, due to the misfortune
of DiRienzo often gave the Rangers' netminder the Bronx cheers for stopping
shots after allowing 2 goals on the first two Saginaw shots in the game.
DiRienzo who couldn't really be blamed for the first goal attoned shutting
the door on the Spirit for more than 50 minutes straight while the Rangers
scored 5 consecutive goals. Andre Benoit got the ball rollin at the
midway point of the third, his wrister barely snuck over the goal line.
Just over a minute later Patrick Davis took a rebound that was just sitting
in the crease dove and batted the puck into the Saginaw net, after a great
scoring opportunity for Adam Keefe. The eventual lead occured on
one of the more awkward plays of the night. Michael Richards found
Craig Voakes for a one-timer, his shot missed the net but carromed out
infront and Michael Richards took the puck from a terrible angle and deposited
it into the nearly empty Saginaw net.
The Rangers broke things open early in the third period, a pair of goals would chase veteran netminder Mike Brown from the Saginaw crease. First, Craig Voakes who was returning after missing a game due to injury, simply burst through the Saginaw defenders and simply roofed a puck top corner on the glove side which appeared to be from an impossible angle, even Mike Brown was shocked that the puck had gone in. His insurance goal, capped off a three-point, first-star night for the former Sudbury Wolves prospect. Only 30 seconds later Mike Duco would take a breakaway and score avenging his first period breakaway chance which was nulified by a Paul McFarland hooking infraction. In the dying minutes of the game Tom Pyatt who score taking a cross-crease pass from Jean-Michel Rizk while the Spirit enjoyed a 5-on-3 man advantage. Michael Richards finished off the Spirit with a shorthanded goal (shown above) making a 6-3 final.
The win left the Rangers in a three-way tie for second in the conference, with the Owen Sound trailing only two points behind. The Rangers are unbeaten in their last 6 games (5-0-1), Carlo DiRienzo has started all of those games and his play has been consistent with the netminders that the Rangers are encountering. Boris Valabik, after missing 9 straight games fighting with concussion symptoms finally returned to the Rangers' lineup, he looked a little slow in his return, but should be back up to speed for his next start against the division rival Guelph Storm. Joe McCann and Matt Pepe both missed their first games of two-game suspensions. After drawing the ire of Rangers' fans early in the game, DiRienzo appeare to win back much of the crowd after some acrobatic stops, highlighted by a diving stick save in the third period.