It's often simply a matter of time, coinicidence or brilliant netminding that can stiffle a strong offense. On Sunday afternoon the Storm got all three, timely stops, the absence of Rangers' premier pivot: Michael Richards and brilliant netminding. Prior to Sunday's matchup the Rangers' offense was averaging 5.1 goals on home ice, a far cry from the two that the Rangers were able to squeeze past Dennis, the games' first star. At the other end of the ice Carlo DiRienzo wasn't quite as busy but looked extremely focused, neither of the two goals that found their way past him were conceivably stoppable. DiRienzo who is currently adding on to an already career high 9 game unbeaten string (7-0-2), lowered his goals against average to a stingy: 2.36, good for 4th in the league. It was the third time this season that the Rangers have seen Adam Dennis tending the net for the Storm and his play has improved with each game the two rivals play. For DiRienzo it was his second game against the Storm, and his 3 goals in two games combined seem to dwarf Eric Pfligler's 4 in one game effort on Thanksgiving Day.
The first period saw a timid Rangers team,
one playing without their leader and captain: Michael Richards, one that
at times looked confused, but seemed relentless with the hitting.
With Darryl Smith in the box serving a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct,
the Rangers got to work on the powerplay. They buzzed around the
Storm net until Evan Grath picked up a second rebound slamming the puck
into the back of the netting giving the Rangers a quick lead over the Storm,
something the Rangers have enjoyed in all of their head-to-head matchups
with the Storm. After 9 straight periods in which the Rangers did
not allow an even strength goal, they finally cracked, mid-way through
the period. Ryan Challahan forced a bad giveaway by Andre Benoit
at center ice, he brought the puck into the Rangers zone and found Kyle
Spurr at the side of the Rangers' crease who buried the puck. With
both Benoit and Lashoff caught way up ice it was probably the biggest defensive
lapse of the still young season resulting in a two-on-none rush. . . and
it wasn't a good kind of Rush like RangersRush, it was a bad kind of rush
that cost us our lead.
The Storm took their first and only lead of the game later in the second period when free agent signee: Matt D'Agostini tipped a Ryan Card point shot right through DiRienzo. The powerplay goal, was the perfect tip and it had to be as DiRienzo was out near the Storm forwards to cut down the angle. Early in the third period the Rangers came out on to the ice on a mission. The third unit consisting of: Applebaum, Azevedo and McFarland had been giving the Storm headaches all night long. Paul McFarland scored early in the period finally returning the momentum to the Rangers. After the goal the Rangers seemed to have an extra jump in their step and managed to outshoot the Storm 14-9, for every Rangers' chance Storm netminder: Adam Dennis seemed to have an answer. The Rangers even had a late powerplay after some grity work by relative new-comer: Mark Fraser drew a Storm penalty in the offensive zone. The Rangers struggle for possession in the zone and once they had it, they were greeted by a Storm netminder clad in sliver equipment. The Storm actually carried the play in the overtime period, outshooting the Rangers 4-2 and forcing DiRienzo to be sharp to preserve the Rangers lengthy unbeaten streak.
Streaks were stopped on this night though, the Rangers 6 game winning streak came to a crashing stop, as did Craig Voakes' point streak, ending at 10 games. The beat goes on for both Andre Benoit (point in last 12 games) and Evan McGrath who for the second time this season has had points in 8 straight games. Attendance mirrored the season-high set on Friday night matching exactly with 6142 paying ticket holders. Despite having a strong weekend taking 3 of a possible four points the Rangers found themselves in third place at the end of the night after the hot Owen Sound Attack beat the Oshawa Generals, making it three of three during their last week of play. The Rangers appear to be getting things done at both ends of the rink their 74 goals for rank them 4th in the OHL and their 57 goals against also rank them 4th in the league.