One goal losses to the IceDogs and Spitfires should have served as simple warning beacons in what many OHL followers would dub as a disasterous weekend waiting to happen. Instead the Rangers, and perhaps moreso their netminder: Dan Turple turned the tide! Turple some way, somehow has found a way to allow the Otters to score first on the Rangers in each of the last three head to head matchups, each time closing the door completely allowing 3 goals in three games combined against Pennsylvania's OHL team. If the Otters weren't smarting from a tough luck loss the night before in Erie they definately were at the end of 60 minutes in Kitchener where a 5-1 score defied both the odds and the general flow of the game, a game where the Rangers weathered the storm after being outshot by a greater than 2-1 margin. Mike Duco, David Clarkson, and Michael Richards, three of Kitchener's brightest goal scoring stars were all out of the lineup on Sunday night. The latest addition to the walking wounded being David Clarkson who took a shot to the inside of the foot in Erie and tried in practice but could not push off when skating, Clarkson leads the Rangers with 31 goals and lately has been making an assualt on the OHL's top 10 goal scoring list.
Things look glum for the shorthanded Rangers'
early in the first period, they managed to kill an interference penatly
to Boris Valabik, but soon after Geoff Platt broke in and scored on Turple.
The Rangers spent the entire first period utilizing Dan Gyenes for a regular
shift while using Andre Benoit as a center. During the goal, Benoit
was centering a line that included Rizk and Donally it also didn't help
that Justin Azevedo picked up a misconduct to start the game. It
seemed to be a good idea with the Rangers' lacking scoring punch, but a
plan gone abandoned come 2nd period. The Rangers would receive some
similar misconduct help when Geoff Platt (clearly bothered by Valabik's
attention of late) took an undisciplined penalty for dumping Valabik well
after the play, most if his infraction continued into the second period.
At one point the Rangers were being outshot 14-1, though the Otters were
able to benefit from many powerplay advantages. At the same time
the Rangers were able to benefit from some timely netminding by Turple,
at period's end the Otters held a 15-5 edge in shots.
The Rangers' powerplay seemed to find it's stride in the second period. Patrick Davis tied the score at two less than one minute into an Otters penalty very early in the period. The Otters had a chance of their own to regain the lead. But impressive Otters' rookie Chris Greene threw the puck over the net while looking at a half vacated net on a one-timer. A couple of minutes later the Rangers were on the powerplay again, this time they took all but the final second of the man advantage before Andre Benoit's pointshot snuck through Josh Disher into the back of the net, Benoit's goal was the only one that was not assisted by Evan McGrath as the Rangers' second powerplay unit was on the ice. Donally and Rizk's unit combined for a second goal, the Rangers' first goal while playing even strength, for Donally it was his first goal as a Ranger, only two nights after Jean-Michel Rizk scored his first as a Ranger. Late in the period the Rangers struck again on the powerplay, this time the efficient unit took but 14 seconds for Davis to sneak the puck past Disher for his 2nd of the game. The Rangers finished the period outshot by a 17-12 margin, but scoring on 3 of 4 powerplays gave them a 4-1 lead over the Otters entering the third period.
After absorbing 3 losses in three games, or at least one well on the way, all occuring within three nights Josh Disher was finally relieved by Jhase Sniderman. Davis spent little time in snapping the puck top corner on the new netminder for the hattrick, the first of Davis' promising career. The highlight of the third period for some was the punchup between Michael Blunden and Boris Valabik, both skaters fought buckets off and after a couple of shots early by Blunden, Valabik had him eating a fast and steady diet of haymakers much to the crowd's delight. The announced attendance of 5,764 was hurt by poor weather. At the end of the home-at-home Dan Turple had stopped 75 of 77 Otters' shots, while shutting out the Erie powerplay in all 14 of their opportunities. Surprisingly in each of the last three head-to-head matchups between the Otters and Rangers the team that has been outshot has been victorious. The Rangers went 3 for 6 on the powerplay scoring all three goals during the second period. After watching the Otters narrow the Rangers' lead for home advantage to only 3 points on Friday night, the Rangers expanded their lead to 7 points while picking up a pair on the Attack who lost closing to within 9 points of the 3rd seed. They play in Owen Sound on Wednesday night.