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Rangers on track for strong finish
 


Anthony Stewart poised to blast the puck right by Dan Turple.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


Reporting live from RangersRush's temporary base in Ottawa where the Ottawa 67's defeated the Barrie Colts 6-3.  As always gracious thank-yous to those who host.  Before landing in Ottawa we took in all of the action from Kingston in what was a fierely contested match until the Rangers broke it open with back-to-back goals in the second period on the powerplay.  It was one of those nights were you could see the much lower seeded Frontenacs catching some breaks, sneaking past the Rangers and grabbing some very critical points towards their ongoing efforts to grasp a playoff spot.  Dan Turple returning to his first OHL home would spoil that bid and the Rangers' powerplay would be the catalyst clicking on 2 of 4 opportunities.  The Rangers having already added Mike Duco on Tuesday night in Guelph would also add another piece to the puzzle.  The popularity king: Michael Richards, absentee captian of the Kitchener Rangers for over 5 weeks.  A welcome sight for two, plus full busloads of fans who made the long journey down to Kingston and the many others that elected to go by car.  Rookie Myles Applebaum also returned, Chris Bryson's Cambridge Winterhawks were eliminated from postseason play making him available for the trip as well.

Both teams got of to sluggish starts early in the first period.  Dayne Davis appeared to be fighting the puck and coughing up some huge rebounds, but the Rangers were unable to capitalize on them or really even get a handle on the puck.  At the other end Dan Turple heard a thunk off of a post behind him but the Frontenacs didn't register a shot on goal until the 8:38 mark of the first period.  Shawn Futers, the former and very pesky at the time London Knight forward slammed the puck past Turple during a scrambly play.  For Futers it was only his second goal of the season.  Later in the period the Rangers struck, Valabik fired a shot into the zone, that Benoit picked up, his shot on goal was deflected out to Justin Azevedo who made little mistake and tied the score at one.  The biggest top of the period was yet to come Dan Turple slid across the crease absolutely robbing a Frontenac forward who was receiving a pass from the opposite side.  The Rangers finished the opening frame with a rather wealthy shooting margin of 16-3.
 



Dan Tuple takes a wild stab at the puck as Frontenac pressure mounts.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


 

Much like 3 nights earlier, the Rangers' powerplay acted with a degree of percision.  In the second period they struck for a pair of early goals to break things open.  The first one came on the back-end of a two-man advantage, after killing the first penalty the goal came late in the second minor.  The Rangers worked the puck down low where Mike Duco was able to find Clarkson in the clear.  The next Rangers' powerplay goal came as a result of an extremely wild as well as lengthy goalmouth scramble.  Evan McGrath finally picked up a rebound and shot the puck past a prone Dayne Davis giving the Rangers a much-desired 3-1 buldge.  In the third period Adam Keefe was able to give the Rangers some breathing room early.  He stormed into the Frontenacs' zone with a head of steam, Patrick Davis having srung him on a breakaway.  No patented move with this break, he fired the puck under Davis who was diving sideways and it went into the center of the net for a 4-1 lead.  With Valabik in the box for high-sticking Smolenak would give the Frontenacs life late in the third only for Justin Azevedo to take that life away with his second of the night into an empty Frontenacs' net with just under one minute remaining in regulation.  Micheal Richards would provide the perfect pass for the uncontested deflection into the vacated goal, it would be Richards' third point of the night.

Two noteworthy scraps, the first instigated by former Petes' winger: Greg Williams who didn't fare overly well against Mark Fraser, the second was a slugfest between Justin Suda and Adam Keefe.  The win gives the Rangers a undefeated 6-0-2 mark against the OHL's Eastern division.  Michael Richards and Andre Benoit each had three assists, and crept closer to 300 career points with the Rangers.  Benoit is now 9 shy, and Richards: 15.  Though his name did not appear on the scorelist.  Jean-Michel Rizk, who was a +1 on the night, may have had his best game as a Kitchener Ranger.  He skated well, and generated a number of quality scoring opportunities.