Reporting live from RangersRush's temporary base in Ottawa where the Rangers hope to close on the weekend in winning style infront of a national TV audience on Sunday night. The Rangers didn't look over national television audience friendly on Saturday night where they were confused, frustrated and at points outplayed by the Bulls. In an effort as described by the coach was subpar by his expectations of where this team should be. The Owen Sound Attack picked up another two points on the Rangers' restoring their 9 point lead on that covetted third place spot in the conference. After a convincing victory in Kingston where they were receipients of quality netminding, strong special teams, and overall good defensive hockey, all aspects of their game seemed to go south in Belleville while playing a Bulls team that just distanced itself 7 points from the Kingston Frontenacs who are on the outside looking in, and perhaps more importantly to the Bulls, brought them to within a single point of the 6th place Ottawa 67's whom the Rangers play next.
As has been tradition of late the Rangers'
started the game in the penalty box, only 1:28 into the game, Adam Keefe
was finding his way there, the Rangers' successfully killed his penalty
but would struggle with some of the other Bulls' powerplays. 3 minutes
later, Dan Gyenes and Cody Thornton would drop the gloves, with the veteran
Thornton clearly getting the better of Gyenes who is with the Rangers as
opposed to playing with the Jr. B Dutchmen who are in the postseason.
Once back on the ice Thornton would open the scoring his shot from an angle
would beat Pfligler and give the Bulls their first of three leads on the
night. Patrick Davis would reply late in the period with his 17 of
the season tying the score at one each on a give and go with Evan McGrath.
The Rangers outshot and thoroughly outplayed the Bulls, a result that was
not reflected on the scoreboard thanks to Kevin Lalande's very strong goaltending
performance for the Bulls who have been pleasantly surprised that their
rookie and once thought of 3rd netminder is pushing the overager: incumbent:
Eric Tobia for time the way that he is this late in the season. The
Rangers' may have received some momentum from a wild scrap with Keefe really
getting the better half of Bulls rookie: Bobby Davey
In the second period, the Bulls would not really take their time in restoring the lead, with Mike Duco off for interference, Cody Thornton stormed into the Rangers' zone with two other forwards crashing the net and put a wrister past Eric Pfligler who was not out covering the angle, for Thornton it was his 22nd of the year giving the promising young winger his highest ever goal total while in the league. The Rangers' dominated much of the remainder of the period but were thwarted repetatively by Lalande who really controlled his rebounds well and many times did not yield any sort of rebound opportunity for the Rangers' to work with. The Rangers nearly ran into disaster late in the period, with Valabik early in the box for tripping, Adam Keefe while on the forecheck penatly killing really clipped one of the Bulls' defenders with a highstick, while attempting an aggressive stick-check. Fortunately for the Rangers' the play continued on without notice from the official, because it may have resulted in a double-minor to Kitchener. Again the Rangers' looked to their fists for inspiration and this time at the 20:00 mark while in the Bulls' zone, Boris Valabik picked Jeff Leavitt out of the group, Leavitt was busy punching several of the Rangers' skilled players and when the two squared off it was just another dominant fight by Kitchener's big guy who pummeled Leavitt.
Early in the third period (picture up top) David Clarkson came back to haunt his former team that gave him up to the Rangers with a tying goal. He brought the puck out of a massive scrum infront and finally wristed it past a prone: Lalande. Despite gaining momentum with the Clakrson goal, the Bulls really seemed to find resolve and started taking the play to the Rangers' for the first time. They just barely missed the net on a wide open, one-timer that prompted the sound guy to sound the horn only for a split second before realizing that the puck didn't enter the net. Later in the period Jeff Leavitt got his revenge on the Rangers' flipping a wrist shot over Eric Pfligler's shoulder, it's unfortunate that a Dan Turple couldn't have taken that shot which would have surely bounced off of his shoulder at that height. The Rangers would press in the dying seconds but could not beat the rookie netminder who had a very solid outing infront of 3,201 at the Yardman Arena many of those fans (up to 200) who made the trip from Kitchener. The win by the Bulls halted the Rangers' undefeated run at the Eastern divsion at 8 games (6-0-2).