It was a similar problem that the Rangers had encountered while in Oshawa, where they escaped with a 2-1 victory. The Rangers injected too much talent into prominant places in the lineup. Ryan Donally, and Jean-Michel Rizk bring talent and experience to the Rangers' lineup. Unfortunately their arrival and ultimately Paul McFarland's departure would leave the Rangers' lineup very unsettled. Micheal Richards was joined by Jean-Michel Rizk as well as Davis whom has seldomly seen time on his wing, this season or during the last. The other daunting problem was the London Knights who had made a few acquisitions of their own in an attempt to secure their place amongst the CHL's greatest all time teams, that and an illusive Memorial Cup win, something that fans have had to live without for 39 years thus far. The Knights added the likes of Daniel Girardi and Adam Dennis from the Storm, their other big coup was a trade that landed Dan Fritsche, the Sarnia Sting superstar.
The Rangers had lost each of their previous
8 meetings with the Knights, and with the way the Rangers started the first
period, the steak appeared destined to continue. One Ranger seemed
to keep his play on the level, Dan Turple, despite a devastating loss in
his last visit, and the fans who were on him most of the night, really
turned his play up during the first. Catching several deflections
and picking a number of rebounds out of the air, and in general standing
tall, and playing the angles to perfection. The Rangers were outshot
13-6, and the 6 shots were generous for a Rangers' offense that struggled
to create much in way of opportunities. As in most of the Rangers
and Knights tilts, Adam Keefe and Brandon Prust found a way to get involved
with each other. The bout thoroughly entertained the crowd of 9090
in attendance, spectacular for a Thursday night attendance, once again
Keefe ended up with the shorter end of the stick, though to his credit
he did land several punishing blows, and in addition showed true staying
power as the fight was more than one minute long.
The Knights started the second period on a powerplay, with Michael Richards in the box, having been assessed an unsportsmanlike minor to end the first period. Danny Syvret scored what turned out to be the game's only goal immediately after the penalty expired. Syvret stepped in a little from the point and wired a wicked slapshot over Dan Turple's shoulder sending the big crowd into a frenzy. It would be the only time as the two clubs would spend most of the 60 minutes of regulation providing a far from spectacular expedition of OHL excitement. Much of the game's play was done in the neutral zone where both clubs were extremely vigilant in their physical play. The Rangers appeared to have been dealt a deciding blow when Richards, Keefe and Applebaum were all in the box, and the Rangers down two men for a full 1:52. The Knights didn't do the Rangers any favours by taking any stupid penalties of their own, the only blessing was the Corey Perry was also trapped in the box with Richards and Keefe two of the Rangers' brightest penalty killers. The big guy on the backend, Boris Valabik was a force, as was Turple who obtained several key play stoppages for the Rangers who started the critical kill by refusing to take the ice, allowing the Knights an easy possession. For the first time in at least 6 visits to the John Labatt, the Rangers shut down the Knights while down two men.
Buoyed with confidence after the big penalty kill the Rangers push started to gain momentum and suddenly the Knights were on their heals, the Rangers had several opportunities none closer than David Clarkson's attempt which clicked off of the post on a wrap-around attempt, then sat procariously on the goal line for several seconds before being cleared, some Rangers remained in the zone protesting, perhaps that the puck may have crossed the line or more likely that the puck may have been gloved in crease. For the first period, the Rangers outshot the Knights, though by a modest 15-12 margin. The Rangers were unable to come up with a goal while on the powerplay, their best chance, and also with Turple on the bench for the final minute of the game, and odd bounce off of a partition behind the net provided their best chance late dropping the puck end over end into the low slot. Certainly Turple deserved a better fate, but for the second straight visit to London he was the game's 2nd star. Coleman edged him out for first star with the shutout though his performance being the more stunning of the pair was clearly up for debate. The win was the Knights 9th consecutive over the Rangers, it was also the 5th shutout for the London Knights this season, and second in Knights three games.