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Rangers get to Disher early and oftene
 


Michael Blunden returned to the Otters' lineup but was held off of the scoresheet. 
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


A post rennovation-high crowd of 6,399 made the game in part because of some of the momentum gained by the Rangers in back-to-back overtime comeback in games where they trailed by two goals.  The Rangers carried that momentum that they gained late in the game outshooting the Otters in the third period on the road.  After winning in his first ever playoff start in Erie, backup netminder: Eric Pfligler was brimming with confidence.  Though he was not as busy as Josh Disher he was in every way equal to the task down in Erie.  In Kitchener on home ice he continued to shine.  The Rangers and Otters actually exchanged chances back and fourth over the first five minutes of the game, Pfligler and Disher both had to make some big stops including one on a breakaway where Pfligler was able to best Geoff Platt by the slightest of margins.  Pfligler and Platt were once teammates in Saginaw for part of the 2003-'04 season.  The Otters were supposed to enjoy the injection of some offensive help by Michael Blunden fresh off of a 10-game suspension.

Patrick Davis opened the scoring while the teams were playing 4 a side, he intercepte a pass before flipping the unassisted goal into the top corner.  The Otters for the third time in three games in Kitchener were burned with a too many men penalty.  This call was especially hilarious since the Otters all skated around afterwards confused with it being blatently obvious that there were 6 skaters on the ice, it broke up a powerplay, later giving the Rangers a chance of their own.  Just after the midway point of the period David Clarkson was able to tip a Michael Richards point shot into the net giving the Rangers an early 2-goal lead.  They relinquished their stranglehold on the Otters when Sean O'Connor tipped a Brian Lee point shot immediately after a faceoff in the final minutes of the first period.
 



The Rangers cluttered the crease all game long, in this shot Clarkson has both skates in the blue.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

The Rangers hit the ice in the second period with a similar drive and determination that they left the first period with.  Jean-Michel Rizk and Kevin Henderson may have been the most effective set of wingers that the Rangers used on Friday night.  If they weren't the most effective they were the most tenacious, Rizk and Henderson did some quality forechecking tormenting the Otters until Richard, who was centering the rugged pair of wingers finally beat the Otters' netminder to restore the two-goal lead.  Less than 30 seconds later Evan McGrath blindly re-directed a point shoot through Disher giving the Rangers a commanding lead to work with.  In the third period the Otters had several chances to comeback, the best stop had to be Pfligler's diving gamble on the Otters' Brett MacLean who snuck in all alone with Boris Valabik in pursuit.  A pair of irrelevant powerplay goals were scored late in the game making the final 5-2 for the Rangers.

Derrick Bagshaw of the Otters took a major penalty for hitting from behind when he crushed Mike Duco along the boards, Duco took his time in getting to the dressing room and would not return to action.  The Rangers would score their 5th goal of the game while up two men.  Craig Voakes moved in from the point and scored.  Geoff Platt replied for the Otters sending a lazer like shot off the post and past Disher.  If was the first of five games were the Rangers yielded more powerplays to the Otters in the series.  Eric Pfligler's playoff record improved to 3-0-0.  Mark Packwood continued to backup Pfligler in the Rangers' net.  Pfligler who stopped 42 of 44 shots, including many fine saves was the game's first star.   At one point the Rangers were outscoring the Otters by an 8-1 margin until Platt's late game goal with less than two minutes on the game clock.