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Rangers survive sleep walking in second period
 


Andre Benoit makes his move on Morrison late in the third, his goal put the Rangers up 6-2.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


The north end of the Aud was busy on Sunday afternoon, just how busy?  8 goals gusy enough?  The Rangers and Frontenacs combined to score all 8 goals in a 6-2 Kitchener victory all at the same end while thousands of fans who sat at the opposite end of the Auditorium patiently waited for action that never really arrived close to home through 60 minutes.  Much like the industrious 1997-'98 edition of the Kitchener Rangers (one blessed with far less talent then this year's edition) they have found new, creative and inspiring ways to win hockey games.  On Wednesday night it was a grueling defensive effort, more of the same on Friday, on Sunday afternoon they flew out of the gates attacking a tired team at the end of a long weekend, and scored their way out of trouble in the third.  Sunday's effort was by far the most sloppy of the three games this week but also resulted in the most goals for, outscoring their combined totals from the two previous games.  Dan Turple again backstopped the Rangers, he led them to an undefeated weekend (2-0-1).  Unlike the game on Friday night both teams (especially the Rangers) provided fans with some thrilling highlights through 60 minutes of a game that remainined in the undecided column until Clarkson struck with back-to-back goals midway through the third period.

The Rangers got to work quickly and often in the first period, Matt Lashoff stepped into the center of the blueline and let go a blast on the powerplay that pretty much went straight down the guantlet, through numerous legs infront of the net and directly through the five hole - undetected by: Dayne Davis who's short start was minutes away from ending.  Three minutes later with the Frontenacs were on the powerplay the exact opposite result occured, Mike Duco intercepted a pass, he took it in, made one man miss and then floated a wrist shot over Davis' shoulder and into the top corner just under the crossbar.  For the Rangers as a team, incredibly it was their 15th shorthanded goal of the season.  Seconds later Adam Keefe burst in with Davis still smarting from the first goal, his slapper just narrowly missed the top corner of the net.  Sometimes the inevitable is bound to happen, in the instance of the Frontenacs, it was a third goal to chase their starting netminder.  Evan McGrath tried to give a centering pass to Kevin Henderson at the opposite side of the crease and the puck deflected in off of the defenseman giving the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead only 6 minutes into the game.  This development prompted Kingston bench boss and former Ranger: Jim Hulton to put rookie Brady Morrison in goal in hopes to shake up his team.
 
 


Boris Valaik just misses a cross crease pass from Evan Kotsopoulos to Bobby Hughes, Hughes scored
narrowing the Rangers' lead to 3-2 at the time.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

After gaining a 3 goal lead the Rangers began to get complacent in their own end of the ice.  Dan Turple had to bail them out on several occasions, meanwhile a rivalry was brewing between Boris Valabik and Anthony Stewart, surprisingly one that would actually put Stewart in the box for more roughing minutes than it would Valabik.  Early in the second period the Rangers' suffered a breakdown while killing a penalty Bobby Hughes eventually found Adam Nemeth who slipped the puck past Turple who was hardly in a place to have a chance at stopping the chance.  Later in the period Evan Kotsopoulos and Bobby Hughes would bust in two-on-one with Valabik back, Valabik dove to prevent the pass, but unfortunately the Frontenac forwards were blessed with time, they stopped and Kotsopoulos reached the puck around Valabik's stick over to Bobby Hughes who pounded the puck into the net at the opposite side.  Suddenly the Rangers once dominant lead has pretty much evaporated and the Rangers were being outshot by a 27-18 margin through 2 periods.

The Rangers after an extremely lack luster second period came out with some fight in the third.  They outshot the visiting Frontenacs who were playing their third in two and a half days by a 16-4 margin.  The turning point came with a stroke of luck.  David Clarkson wrapped around a puck from behind the goal with Justin Suda checking him, when he let the puck go it deflected off of the back of Morrison's skate and into the goal.  Only two minutes later Clarkson would strike again, taking a Mike Duco feed from infront of the goal and firing a shot into the top corner for his 28th goal of the season.  Andre Benoit closed the scoring with only 5 minutes left while on a two-on-one turned breakaway he got in close and fed the puck through the five-hole for his twentieth of the season.  Turple started all three weekend games compiling a 2-0-1 record, allowing only 4 goals on 105 total shots.  The Rangers remain undefeated against the East divsion with a 5-0-2 record.  First star David Clarkson scored two goals and also had a pair of assists.