With both the Rangers and Wolves playing a mantinee game following Friday night games, one couldn't blame some players for showing a little fatigue, except for Rangers' captain Michael Richards. Richards finished up the last game of a two-game suspension on Friday night and returned to the lineup having not played in a whole week. With the Rangers down 2-0 in the first Richards struck on the powerplay with a blast from just inside the blueline, in the second period he went back to work on the powerplay, converting a Matt Lashoff feed, and only minutes later while shorthanded he launched a rocket at Kevin Beech, and deposited his own rebound to complete the 'trick. In a game that featured the two most penalized teams in the OHL, it was no surprise that this affair got ugly especially with the Sudbury Wolves being outscored 5-1 in what could best be called a disasterous second period.
The first period was all Rangers, that is until
the Wolves powerplay got on track, and much like in the third period the
night before the Rangers struggled mightly on the penalty kill in the opening
frame. The Rangers killed off their first penalty, but the Wolves
took advantage of the Rangers, who were missing their top two defenders:
Andre Benoit and Boris Valabik, on the next two opportunities. Rookie
extrodinaire: Ryan McDonough beat Turple through the five-hole before coach
Mike Foligno's son would give the Wolves a 2 goal lead with his first career
goal minutes later. The Rangers were back on their heals and were
able to accomplish very little after some good pressure to start the period
until a late period powerplay where a Michael Richards blast from near
the point snuck through a number of legs including those of Wolves' netminder:
Kevin Beech, the powerplay was a result of cluminated hits on the boards
just beyond the Rangers' bench, and eventually resulted in a scrap between
Mark Fraser and Stefan Blaho.
A good team knows how to evolve in order to defeat their competition, in the instance of the Rangers' offense, it wasn't for lack of effort or skill, but down low the Rangers' found Sudbury defenders too big and too strong around the slot. The Rangers frequently put the puck infront of the net with personel in place, but the Wolves defense effectively tied up those sticks. During the second frame, the Rangers' offense and most likely coaching staff made some adjustments, they skated across the net and simply exploited the Wolves lack of foot speed in deep, and it worked. Michael Richards knoted the game at 2 a piece on a Rangers' powerplay. Richards simply delighted the crowd of 6,100 when he scored shorthanded picking up his own rebound while on a shorthanded rush with Adam Keefe. Keefe was the marksman on the next Rangers' powerplay only minutes later, as the Rangers' slick passing led to their 4th specialty teams goal of the night. The Wolves appeared to be coming up for some breathing air when Kyle Musselman chipped the puck over Turple's glove. The Rangers' were quick to take the momentum back, Paul McFarland and Justin Azevedo both scored within a minute and a half of the Sudbury tally taking the wind out of the Wolves' sails. Alexander Eaton fought twice in the second period, first he challenged Mike Duco and as the period came to a close he squared off with Clarkson who forced him to atone for the earlier bout with the smaller Rangers' rookie.
Unlike the previous night, the Rangers clamped down defensively on the Wolves, the Rangers dressed five defenders but primarily played only 4 with Gyenes picking up the rare shift, fatigue on their part was obvious. After a lackluster effort between the pipes through the first and second periods, Dan Turple stood tall in the Rangers' crease. Justin Piquette, and Devin DiDiomete found themselves involved in the third scrap of the night, after three players were forced to hit the showers early with official: Peter Kostyk concerned that things could easily loose control. Andre Benoit sat out the first game of his suspension, and hence will have to pick up the pace later on his point scoring streak. Richards' hattrick made him the 4th Ranger to score in double-digits this season. Turple remained perfect in Kitchener, and the Rangers continued their unbeaten streak, now at 11 games (9-0-2).