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Benoit and Clarkson double up on Spirit
 


Despite the inadvertant snowing it was Aaron Rock who gave Michael Richards the 'cold shoulder' turning away his
clear break away attempt, even with Richards tremendous side-to-side move.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


After a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Rangers back in November, the Saginaw Spirit weren't exactly interested in simply rolling over and allowing the Rangers to leave with an easy two points.  Surprisingly since the Spirit have played in Saginaw there have been no "easy games" for the Rangers while playing in mid-Michigan, the biggest blowout being a 3-1 victory with Eric Pfligler starting early last season, with DiRienzo starting and almost earning a shutout for those same Spirit.  This bout featured a return matchup of Eric Pfligler versus Aaron Rock who started for their respective teams the last time these two teams played in Ktichener.  The Rangers took their time in this game, they also took a long while to register their first shot on goal before the flood gates opened on Aaron Rock who was extremely impressive between the pipes for the Spirit.  The best chance in the first period may have been generated by Patrick Davis who drove extremely hard to the net nearly finding room on the short side from close in to tuck the puck past Rock short side.  Pfligler was also tested and made a couple of nice kick saves in the scoreless first period.

In the second the Rangers started to carry the play more, they were finally rewarded at the midway point of the period while playing 4-on-4 hockey.  Azevedo and Duco, two of the smaller Rangers' forwards were terrifying the Spirit together with their speed and stealth, they rushed into the zone together where they found Andre Benoit, the trailer on the rush and Benoit wristed one of his patented wristers over the glove of Rock to open the scoring.  At the other end big Saginaw defender Rick Caughell, a defensive defenseman caught the Rangers napping while the Spirit were on a line change he burst into the zone using his size and strength got through Matt Pepe and tied the game for the Spirit.  Aaron Rock also made a stunning stop earlier in the period on Michael Richards who broke in all alone and failed to score.
 



Adam Keefe usually has to bring down or break something or someone, on this night it was the net, after crashing into
it at a high speed, former Ranger: Thomas Harrison looks on.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


In the third, a much deserved checking from behind minor was assessed to Steven Whitely playing in his first home game after being acquired from the Majors in exchange for Peter Franchin.  The penalty, the only one of the third period seemed to give momentum to the Rangers.  Surprisingly, the illegal though not overly harmful hit, was the "check of the game."  In the first minute of the man-advantage David Clarkson tipped an Andre Benoit point shot through Aaron Rock's legs.  Minutes later Andre Benoit would strike again, giving the Rangers a two-goal cushion.  Sean Courtney quickly snapped a shot up high on Pfligler that brought the Spirit within striking distance.  Inside the final two minutes of regulation the Spirit pulled their netminder and called a timeout.  The plan backfired as David Clarkson found that empty net struggling through a check and scoring.  Determined, the Spirit pulled their netminder a second time with one minute left, this time Marek Kvapil picked the puck out of a mess of players infront and threw it over Pfligler.  The Rangers managed to kill the final 35 seconds but not without the Spirit threatening again.

Fans went home happy with the team's 7-11 promotion, with the final score adding up to 7 on this night resulting in free slurpees for all.