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Rangers survive snow and fierce divisional matchup
 


Boris Valabik had the assignment of handling Geoff Platt, both ended up hitting the showers early in the
very chaotic 4th meeting between the clubs this season.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


There's an old saying that it's sometimes the trip, and not the destination that is most exciting, and the city of Erie Pennsylvainia is hardly worth writing home about.  For the Rangers, they had to be very content to simply arrive at their destination (the Tulio Arena in Erie) alive, but they got a little greedy and a little lucky and sometime on Sunday will cross the boarder with two points to declare for their troubles.  All things considered a gutsy road peformance after a white knuckle ride from Kitchener that went into overtime, with the Rangers spending seven and a half hours on the bus for what is usually a four hour trip.  The Rangers departed at noon, and arrived as the time the puck was intended to drop, their official counterparts didn't arrive until 8:00pm giving the Rangers some time for a pre-game skate to stretch out the bus legs.  Unfortunately for one official, linesman: Guelph native Mike McCreary the whole trip was a lost cause, only 8 seconds in, he rubbed up against an open door on the ice, unfortunately after he departed from the game it was determined that he had a broken arm.  Somehow an 8 hour trip never seemed to futile.  The two remaining officials were forced to make things work by themselves with reinforcements no where close.

Boris Valabik's modest one game scoring streak may have come to an end but his lust for spending time in the sin bin hasn't calmed, he was involved in a fight for this third straight game, and accumulated 69 penalty minutes in that time.  Not surprisingly he opened up the penalty parade in the first period, already unpopular for his actions against former Otter playmaker: Rob Hisey during the pre-season he quickly drew the ire of the surprisingly large crowd considering the weather conditions.  Ryan O'Marra scored on the resulting powerplay, Evan McGrath returned the favour while the Rangers were on a powerplay of their own minutes later.  The period continued back and fourth with the Rangers and Otters trading goals like a pair of heavyweights trade punches.  Michael Blunden scored his 17th only to have Michael Richards reply while 4-on-4 minutes later.  Tomas Galasek scored what should have been a crushing shorthanded goal, but the Justin Azevedo replied for the Rangers only 6 seconds after the powerplay had expired and while they were still announcing the Galasek goal.
 
 


Dan Turple held the Rangers in this game late, he stopped 28 of 32 shots.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

Craig Voakes seemed to benefit in a way similar to Evan McGrath after a losing a prominant winger, in this instance Davis, Voakes responded with a very strong effort with a goal and an assist.  Voakes picked up a pass from Matt Lashoff and scored only 8 seconds into the second period giving the Rangers their first lead of the game.  The play in the opinion of many including a rather frustrated Dave MacQueen was a two-line pass, but the goal stood, and the Rangers made have made good on a break that was potentially aided by the loss of a member of the officiating staff.  Adam Keefe gave the Rangers' a two goal cushion while on the powerplay early in the third.  Unfortunately there's no keeping Geoff Platt off of the scoresheet, midway through the third, Andre Benoit and Boris Valabik collided behind the net, and Platt was alone infront of the goal, and suddenly the Otters were within one.  Turple stood tall the rest of the way through.  With only one minute, three seconds left things got a little out of hand, Geoff Platt slashed Turple's glove after the whistle, Valabik followed Platt, and took exception.  Andrew Hotham challenged the big Rangers' defender and after a fight and double minors for spearing to both Platt and Valabik, the Rangers took to the powerplay after the instigator penalty was assessed to the Otters.  They got the netminder out to even things out 5-on-5, but failed to send the game to overtime.

The Rangers are now 4-1-1 in their last 6 road games with the victory.  They've also closed the gap on the Owen Sound Attack, they now trail them by 12 points, gaining 4 points in the last two nights.  The Rangers evened out their record againt the Otters at 2-2 with one home win and one road win, there are still 4 head-to-head matchups between the two teams.  The loss for the Otters was their 4th straight.  Geoff Platt scored his league-leading 34th goal of the year, O'Marra and Blunden scored their 17th goals of the season, finally attaining half as many goals as their leading goal scorer.  The Rangers went 2 for 7 on the powerplay, one night after the team struggled going 1 for 7 only managing a late goal against the lowly Generals.  Justin Azevedo scored his 3rd goal in two nights during the first period.