It hasn't just been a while since the IceDogs have defeated the Rangers, it's been an eternity! Since the IceDogs joined the OHL in 1998-99 the Rangers have been a constant thorn in their sides and now despite back-to-back seasons of very strong and entertaining hockey the streak continues. The Ice Dogs have been 13 games (or six and a half seasons) and still have yet to defeat the Rangers. Something tells me that the IceDogs don't exactly have a small spot in their collective hearts for big Rangers' netminders. Last season Tyson Kellerman walked into the Hershey Centre and stole one for the Rangers. This time around it was Turple's turn, though many a Ranger would be quick to argue that the team out infront helped provide support and play a grinding road game which would only result in success if they can carry that kind of play into the postseason. Dan Turple continued where he left off prior to getting the day off in Brampton, stopped 34 of 35 shots and has only allowed 8 goals in his last 6 games for an astonishing 1.30 GAA in that timespan (the Rangers have a rather ordinary 3-1-2 record in those games). Call it a measure of revenge for the former Oshawa Generals netminder who was dealt defeat in the same building during the seventh and deciding game in the first round of last season's playoffs.
The IceDogs got out to a quick start in this
one hoping to chase away some old and ugly demons from their past, they
put eight consecutive shots on the Rangers' net before the Rangers' were
able to register one of only four shots that they would be held to through
the first period. Turple stood his ground and the Rangers made good
on one of their chances. The first chance was a shorthanded break
by Craig Voakes who was robbed by red hot Mississauga netminder Michael
Ouzas who's quick glove thwarted the opportunity. Cody Bass would
then pick the puck out of a scramble beating Dan Turple in the second half
of the period on the powerplay. Mike Duco would reply for the Rangers'
only minutes later while they were on a powerplay of their own. After
fighting majors to both Keefe and Marchese, and a wide margin on the shot
clock (13-4) for the Ice Dogs the two teams would leave the ice tied at
a goal a piece.
The Rangers started to press for the puck more in the second period it was never more obvious than while the Rangers were on the penalty kill. They did an effective job slowing the IceDogs' attack down in the neutral zone and forechecked tenaciously with noses trained on the puck while it was in the Mississauga end. The Rangers' had their own struggles on the man advantage and struggled with keeping the puck in the IceDogs end. They finally got some pressure, and David Clarkson back a puck over the line uncontested from a bad angle at the side of the net, the rebound off of a Mike Duco shot was more of a gift than anything else but for Clarkson it was his team-leading 26th of the season. Not unlike the first Rangers' goal it occured while they were on the man advantage. Later in the period Evan McGrath was set up by Andre Benoit, and snapped a wrister over Ouzas' sholder and glove hand giving the Rangesr a two goal cushion to work with entering the third period.
Dan Turple had to be sharp in the third period when the IceDogs were able to really clog up the big netminder's view out infront, the Rangers also pressed in their own zone winning the battles along the boards and effectively clogging up the center of the ice on the penalty kill. Ryan Donally had a strong effort on the penalty kill and this game managed to stay out of the penalty box. Because of Matt Pepe's return to the lineup (he was greeted with a fight from Craig Cescon) the Rangers were up to regular staffing on the blueline and were able to utilize Andre Benoit as a forward on the penalty kill late in the game as would be expected he caused chaos in the neutral zone. Things got anxious late in the game when Boris Valabik took a sequence of minors which threatened to leave the Rangers shorthanded until the IceDogs took their own penalty or they had tied the game from a 3-1 score. A comeback was not in the cards as Evan McGrath scored his 2nd of the game and 22nd of the second into a vacated net from near center ice, giving the Rangers a hard fought 4-1 victory. Kitchener leads the all-time series with a 12-0-1 mark against the IceDogs, they play the return 'bout at the Aud on Tuesday night. Chaulk up another victory for Rangers' specialty teams who went 2 for 6 on the powerplay while holding the Ice Dogs to 1 for 8 on the night. Mississauga superstar Patrick O'Sullivan was held to 1 assist on the night and registered a minus-2. David Pszenyczny and Adam Keefe had a spirited third period fight where Keefe simply outlasted the skilled Mississauga defender.