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Knights, Rangers rivalry hits new highs, new lows
 


Traffic was heavy infront of either net all afternoon long.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


The Rangers finally opened the scoring against the Knights, after 3 tries on home ice they finally had a lead against the London Knights, but couldn't keep it.  Brandon Prust took a very undisciplined penalty only one minute in, his double minor, the first of his 15 minutes in penalties of the night.  On the first minor David Clarkson struck, slamming home a Michael Richards pass.  Drew Larman replied for the Knights at the halfway point of the period, he found himself a gift as a drive from the low point opposite deflected landing near his stick at the top of the crease, a gimme goal brining the Knights even.  Minutes later the Knights experts while playing 4-on-4 made the Rangers pay again.  They caught a break when Corey Perry's breakaway was nulified, but as Schremp was followed in and tied up by his check, Rodney found the puck sitting procariously in the high slot and zipped a wrist shot high and over Dan Turple's arm stick side.  The Knights finally had a lead.  Meanwhile actions on the ice resembled the WWE, a road show which visited the Aud less than 24 hours earlier.  Immediately after the expiration of Prust's minors he connected with Boris Valabik behind the play leaving the big defender scrambling for the bench, Clarkson then took exception starting a fight with Prust and getting the instigator.  Minutes later during a scrum Valabik was the one coming to the rescue of Patrick Davis who was outmanned.  Marc Methot was the unfortunate recipient of Valabik's wrath.  Later in the period when Valabik returned he took a shot at the Knights leading scorer: Corey Perry, this time Kelly Thomson would come to Perry's aid.  Thomson jumped all over Valabik from behind and was quickly dispatched by official Mark Hicks, a rare good judgement call by an official who struggled to maintain control almost all afternoon long.  Valabik finished the first period with 19 minutes in penalties.

The second period did not bring hope for Rangers' fans, shortly after the expiration of Thomson's fighting major Josh Beaulieu gave the Knight's a three goal lead, just barely getting the puck past a diving Dan Turple.  David Bolland would put the Knights ahead by three during a man advantage at the midpoint of the period.  The goal made an already volitile situation just get worse, Richards challenged Knights overager: Bryan Rodney who accepted, they fought and only 11 seconds later play was stopped again while David Clarkson and Josh Bealieu duked it out, meanwhile Valabik was assessed his second misconduct of the night giving him a healthy 29 minutes in the sin bin.  Cooler heads prevailed and the Rangers continued their physical assault on the Knights, hitting them in open ice, along the boards, and roughing them up infront of the net.
 



Boris Valabik struggles with Marc Methot with most of the Knights bench intently watching.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

Surprisingly, the Rangers really made a game of it late.  On a powerplay with only 6 minutes left David Clarkson tipped an Andre Benoit point shot through Gerald Coleman, only one minute later, Evan McGrath fed the puck through a crowd to Patrick Davis who quickly made the score 4-3.  The Rangers had a number of chances from that point in, Gerald Coleman was forced to make several stops including some on rebounds, even Valabik got in on the act blasting a shot in from the point.  Before the one minute mark the Rangers pulled their netminder, they had several chances, they appeared to really be in good when Brandon Prust had lost his stick immediately after the faceoff, he was covering Voakes at the point, Voakes passed the puck to the Rangers' top scoring pointman who wristed the puck off of Dylan Hunter's shins and gradually it exited the zone where it was picked up by Dan Fritsche who found the vacated Rangers' net.

For the first time in recent memory the Rangers' finished the season shutout against a division rival, the Knights took the season series 6-0-0.  It is notable that the Rangers victimized the Erie Otters 8-0-0 only two years ago.  The game featured a season-high in penalty minutes (103) and fighting majors with 11, Thomson's lone major when he mauled Valabik resulting in the uneven amount of fighting majors.  The Rangers were 2 for 8 on the powerplay while the Knights were 1 for 8, surprisingly the Rangers outshot the Knights 29-28 in the hard-hitting affair.  Donally and Rizk both continue pointless as Rangers, but both were effective physically in punishing the Knights at most opportunities.  Clarkson's team leading 20th goal of the season leave him two shy of his career high (22) set during the 2004-'05 season.