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First OHL win for Packwood, costly losses for the Rangers
 


Jean-Michel Rizk fights for position at the top of the crease. 
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


Nearly one full season after his first OHL career start, Mark Packwood picked up his first OHL win against the Otters on Friday night.  Full circle for Packwood who watched from the bench as the Rangers lost 4-1 in Plymouth, his first career start, and this night backstopped the Rangers for a full 60 minutes stopping each of his final 31 shots in a convincing 4-1 win over the Otters.  After a stunning pre-season Mark Packwood found himself the victim of a numbers game in Kitchener, with two experienced netminders returning to the team.  Packwood's one start in Plymouth was a reward for his play during the preseason, his start in Kitchener (a chance at redemption) occured because of the situation the Rangers' found themselves in having clinched home advantage.  Mark Packwood unfortunately started where he left off in Plymouth but fortunately settled in soon after.  Infact Mark Packwood stopped the final 31 shots that he saw only allowing an early goal while the Otters were on the powerplay to Andrew Shennan who became a villan later in the game.

Shennan scored only 4 minutes and 29 seconds into the game with the Rangers down a man because of an instigator minor that was assessed to Paul Yovanic who didn't fare overly well in his scrap with: Andrew Hotham.  The Rangers found their stride minutes later.  Evan McGrath stormed into the zone and was able to beat Josh Disher cleanly with a wrist shot and later in the period Adam Keefe found all of the time in the world seemingly while out infront of Disher with the puck, after realizing how much time he had he finally made a move and dipped around Disher with the puck putting the puck around Disher's glove.  Andre Benoit had some big chances in the first period but, couldn't luck out with his 100th career goal.  The second period began with a two-man advantage for the Otters, the Rangers really, really stood tall during the penalty kill, Mark Packwood was sharp when called upon but it was the Rangers' on the ice who were the most dominant.  Young Mark Packwood really started winning over the Rangers' faithful as the Otters started to take over on the shotclock, but Packwood seemed to be well positioned to handle most rebound shots.  Nearing the end of the period Craig Voakes scored his 19th of the season, an extremely flukey goal that gave the Rangers a desired 2-goal cushion.
 



Boris Valabik tries to protect against a cross-crease pass in the first period.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

In the third period the game was iced on the powerplay by the Rangers, Justin Azevedo connected on the powerplay shortly after Andre Benoit's attempt was absolutely robbed by Josh Disher, Benoit was held pointless on the night.  Prior to Azevedo's goal, Adam Keefe was assessed a gross misconduct after an incident where he jumped all over Chris Greene made a questionable hit on Mike Duco that Keefe amongst others took exception to.  Many believe that it was a gesture that Keefe made after the brief scrap that may see him suspended going into the postseason.  Things only got worse from there for the Rangers, as disaster may have struck.  Andrew Shennan went flying into Boris Valabik and appeared to have knocked the big Rangers' defender out cold for the second time this season.  What occured afterwards could have been a scene of chaos, both Yovanic and Fraser challenged the Otters' veteran to fight, fans booed with displeasure, and there was a climate for an all out brawl as several members of the Rangers' bench motioned towards Shennan and the Otters' bench, eventually Shennan was given a 5-minute charging major and game misconduct.

Packwood's 2nd OHL start would account for both his first OHL win and first complete game.  Paul Yovanic compiled 9 minutes in penalties.  The Rangers who now have 81 points with one game remaining have already better last season's numbers by 5 points.  The win over the Otters gave the Rangers the edge in the season series 5-2-0-1.  The Rangers had to continue to play without the services of: Jakub Kindl and Matt Pepe on the blueline.  The Rangers' impressive season record is anchored by the final 3 head-to-head matchups where the Rangers have won 3 straight and in doing so have outscored the Otters 12-3 allowing a single goal in each game.  After the game coach Peter DeBoer reffered to Shennan's actions as gutless, perhaps the league will step in with some supplimentary discipline.