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Second road shutout, hard pill to swallow
 


Lashoff and Benoit squeeze out their man behind the Rangers' net.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


Ouch, the Rangers absorbed their second road shuout of the season, both inside of their division where the Rangers hold a Ranger mediocre 5-8-3-2 record, the first of those shutout losses was against the London Knights, and the Rangers by a meager 8 seconds avoided an embarassing mishap against the Storm on home ice.  The disturbing part of this New Year's trend is that in each of these games veteran starter Dan Turple has only allowed a stingy single goal against, but yet it's been proven enough to beat a Rangers' squad that continues to play a Jekyll and Hyde game offensively, the team currently being restricted by a number of injuries and on this weekend the flu as well.  The only positive news on the night came from Saginaw where the Spirit played infront of a huge crowd of 5037 scoring an upset win over the Owen Sound Attack with former Ranger: Thomas Harrison scoring the third period game winner as the Attack failed to gain ground on surging Rangers.  In Erie things weren't much different a 1st star performance by Disher instead of Weber and massive home sellout crowd of 5593 took in a hard-hitting very close checking game against the Rangers, who were described by the Erie radio announcers as fierce rivals.

The Rangers forced Disher to make some spectacular stops and likewise the Otters did with veteran Dan Turple in the Rangers' goal, the game's big break came midway through the second period in a still scoreless game.  With overlapping consecutive minors to Rizk and then Fraser the Rangers found themselves down two men at the mercy of the Erie Otters' powerplay.  Geoff Platt, the Otters' most deadly offensive threat fed the puck across the top of the crease to Tomas Galasek at the side of the net where he one-timed the puck past an outstretched Dan Turple stick-side.  Minutes later the Rangers found themselves in the same envious spot as the Otters, enjoying a two-man advantage, infact an even longer powerplay.  Unlike the night before where the Rangers' powerplay simply looked dominant taking on the Plymouth Whalers the Rangers really struggled to gain the zone at times and when they did, they could not get a shot on goal, many shots were blocked or misdirected by the Rangers' shooters, eventually the second penalty expired prompting a short standing ovation from the always lively Otters faithful during the middle of play.
 



Dan Turple attempts to see around Michael Blunden after kicking out a generous sized rebound.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


During the third period the Rangers started by taking the play to the Otters. David Clarkson may have had the best chance at the side of the net but unfortunately the hard feed was tipped by one of his teammates and hence he wasn't able to get good wood on the shot, and Disher was capable of making it over to make the stop.  In the first half of the third period the Rangers had several odd-man rushes in their favour, first a two on one created by the speed of our forwards, but unfortunately the red, white and blue missed the net on the shot.  minutes later the Rangers were presented another opportunity, when an Otters' defender lost his footing and a 3 on 1 ensued, unfortunately Brian Lee intercepted the centering pass, and the Rangers were unable to come really close from that point on.  At nearly the halfway point of the third period the Otters started one forechecking and lining up 4 along their own blueline.  It thwarted the Rangers' rushes into the zone and finally Derrick Bagshaw's poke check like clear was barely capable of trickling over the goalline capping off a productive Otters' night with an empty netter to finish off the Rangers.

Boris Valabik was the receipient of several violent body checks by Otters forwards, he was taken in hard from behind during the second period on the end boards and then had his head slammed into the boards during the third period.  The corner boards opened when Valabik was hit during the third period.  Dan Turple despite a rather ordinary 2-1-2 record in his last 5 starts has only allowed 7 goals during that timespan.  The victory for the Otters brought them to within 3 points of the Rangers, and broke the Rangers' modest 5 game unbeaten streak.  The Rangers' lost an opportunity to gain ground on the Attack who also lost in Saginaw.  For 18-year-old Josh Disher it was his 3rd shutout of the season, as the Otters took a 3-2 season-series lead, the difference being an overtime win in Kitchener.