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Banner night for Benoit
 


Andre Benoit is quite litterally beside himself as his banner is raised to the Aud rafters.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


It's all about Benoit, and make no mistake about it, which Richards is away trying to lead the Canadians back to glory in the World Junior Championships, and with the absence of both Valabik and Kindl it may just been all about Benoit for the next several weeks as far as the Rangers are concerned!  On this night, he saw his banner raised, tallied three points including the overtime winner, and at the same time tied former Ranger forward: Richard Borgo for most career games with the Rangers.  He can break the more than 10 year old mark just by making an appearance in London on Sunday.  Benoit hasn't really been guilty of 'making an appearance' he's usually on the ice in excess of 30 minutes on a nightly basis, but then again how would you describe what he does on a regular basis, many times picking up a goal in the process.  Even from the stands, the Rangers as they rush into the zone look rather inconspicious as they cross the blueline, then suddenly the other team is outmanned by someone streaking down the wing, Andre Benoit has just . . . "made an appearance," something that he did in overtime just prior to slapping the puck past a prone Eric Tobia.  For the Rangers, whom had outshot the Bulls 56-27, a better than two-to-one margin, winning in overtime was not an option, Andre Benoit made sure of that!

For a game with such a thrilling finale, the first period really, really lacked both in flow and intensity, the Rangers had one tremendous opportunity, Richards broke in all alone, but was thwarted by Tobia as he got in a little too deep to really make a move on the Bulls' overage netminder.  The Rangers finally broke the ice early in the second period when Justin Azevedo threw a rebound past Tobia while on the powerplay.  Though, not nearly as busy as his counterpart, Eric Pfligler had to turn away some very difficult Bulls opportunities.  Waterloo native Evan Brophey, who would eventually break through in the third was a constant concern all night long.


Andre Benoit nearly ends things prior to overtime with this late game rush.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

The third period would easily oust the two that came before it in terms of goals, opportunities and when the dust had cleared the Rangers held a 23-10 shooting edge and the scene was set for an overtime showdown.  Only one minute into the third period Boris Valabik was assessed his second penalty of the game, and the Rangers were on their heals, Cody Thornton slammed the puck past Pfligler breaking his shutout, and near 4 period shutout streak as well.  It was simply a start of excitement to come for Rangers' fans.  A Michael Richards rocket from just beyond the blueline was strong enough and heavy enough to flip over Tobia's glove and slowly drop into the mesh at the top corner of the net.  The Rangers powerplay that followed simply looked - deadly!  They got into the zone and wouldn't be evicted by the Bulls, pressed, pressed and finally Adam Keefe slammed rebound past Tobia.

Tobia's teammates refused to let the often brilliant performance of their netminder go to waste.  Despite their recentl slump Evan Brophey and Andrew Makysm capitalized on a pair of defensive zone breakdowns by the Rangers to tie the game at 3 a piece.  Andre Benoit made one late rush single-handedly trying to get the Rangers back into the lead, in overtime he would not be denied this team trailing the rush but ahead of his check.  The difference in this matchup was the Rangers' powerplay that went 2 for 5 while the Bulls were only able to get a single man-advantage goal in 5 opportunities.  Andre Benoit +26, closed in on Danny Syvret and Corey Perry whom respectively lead the OHL's plus/minus race with +34 and +30 totals respectively.  The three-point night also allowed Benoit to leap ahead of London's Danny Svyret in the defenseman scoring race, he should be able to expand that lead while Syvret is trying out for the World Junior team.  The Rangers remain undefeated in eight games (7-0-1) against Eastern Conference foes, their only blemish (a tie) coming on home ice to the Peterborough Petes.