A huge road win would appear to be the tonic for a couple of back-to-back disappointments on home ice, afterall this game was a four pointer, and the Rangers finally managed to put some distance between themselves and the Otters, gaining a five point advantage at nights end as the two weary and well-travelled teams prepare for the return match only 24 hours later at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. The road win improves the Rangers' road record to a very respectable 4-1-1 in their last six, reminiscent of the 2003 championship team that really caused more trouble on the road down the stretch run, the only blemish in that six game stretch would be the loss to the Otters and tie to the Battalion on back to back days two weekends' back. The Otters were dealing with some adversity of their own, they one night earlier were enjoying a 3-2 lead over the Majors when the St. Michael's team scored in the final six seconds to tie the game and then again with only 3 seconds remaining in overime to win it. A second straight loss when the Otters led might prove as motivation for the Otters when they, much like the Rangers will be playing their third game in three nights in Kitchener.
The Otters appeared to start the game with
a serious gameplan. With the Rangers shorthanded up front, get as
many as possible into the sin bin as fast as possible and try and capitalize
from that only 4:40 into regulation David Herring started to stalk Ryan
Donally finally forcing him into the glass where the two started fighting.
Herring was able to do little against the economy-sized Rangers' forward
other than push his back into the glass while Donally landed several blows
on the Peterborough native, finally getting so tangled in his equipment
that the two wrestled to the ice. Only 24 seconds later Scott Hotham
was challenging David Clarkson, both seeked each other out but were unable
to fighting finding their way to the penalty box for a pair of ten minute
misconducts. Adam Keefe would take care of himself in more ways than
one later in the period. He flew after Andrew Shennan only to lose
his balance and hit the ice before even landing a punch. Keefe was
assessed the instigator and ended up missing 17 minutes of play because
of his indescretion. The Otters held the play in the first having
a 9-5 edge on the shotclock, but were largely ineffective on the powerplay
in the first period a theme that would carry on throughout the game.
Things finally got going in the second period, play started to pick up but it was still a penalty filled period for the Rangers. The Rangers appeared to have scored early in the period, but after a lengthy session where official Darcy Burchell visited with the time keepers before finally consulting with goal judge finally determined the puck to have never have entered the net, resting against the post instead. The few Rangers around the net did not celebrate a goal, though they did try to sell the play by lining up at center ice. Minutes later Otter: Vince Scott picked up a rebound and backhanded it into the Otters' net to open the score just prior to the game's halfway point. Later in the period Keefe would tie things up for the Rangers putting a rebound from a Boris Valabik point shot past Disher. Disher would protest the goal arguing that Keefe had knocked a smoothered puck loose after a late whistle. The goal stood and for the first time in nearly 100 minutes of hockey in Erie the Rangers had scored a goal. The celebration was short-lived as nearly immediately afterwards Boris Valabik crushed rival David Herring behind the Rangers' net. Herring and Valabik went down to the ice in a heap, eventually the Erie trainer would have to come out onto the ice to help Herring off, it did not appear as if the Otter's second overager ever returned. The thundering check resulted in a double-minor for hitting from behind that the Rangers were forced to kill off. The best chance came on a flukey play where the puck bounced high off of Turple out into the faceoff circle, Otter's sniper Geoff Platt litterally batted the puck out of midair almost picking the top corner. Turple's stop was his revenge for a snowing earlier in the period by Platt that resulted in an unsportsmanlike minor.
The only powerplay of the third may have been the turning point of the game. Sean O'Connor and Boris Valabik were battling well behind the play in the Rangers' zone. As the Otters approached with the puck Valabik attempted to keep his check in the zone and offside he failed but still tried to push O'Connor in early without success when he fell as the play continued into the zone, O'Connor was assessed an interference penalty killing the one-on-one rush and waking the sleeping giant that is the Rangers' powerplay. It took the Rangers only 13 seconds to make good on this glorious chance. They stormed into the Otters zone, got the offensive zone faceoff and things were textbook from there. McGrath won the faceoff clean, back to Benoit, who's point shot was deflected with percision by Clarkson infront and directly through Disher's legs giving the Rangers' their first lead of the game with just under 8 minutes left. The Otter's pressed but without luck and with only 40 seconds left disaster struck, Justin Azevedo feathered a puck down the ice which rolled wabbled and finally crept over the goal line and into the vacated Otter's net as overager: Brian Lee was charging both the puck and net. Fans were turned away at the doors as early as one hour prior to gametime, an announced sellout of 5,596 took in the loss. First star Dan Turple really earned this win for both himself and the Rangers he stopped 33 of 34 shots for his second straight single goal effort against the Otters in Erie.