We all saw this during the series with the Erie Otters. There are some nights that there's a game going on, and at some sort of other level, Michael Richards is also 'going on.' This was one of those nights as the Rangers' leader sometimes dubbed 'Captain Canada' had a hattrick effort carrying the Rangers to an amazingly thrilling 6-5 overtime win by the Rangers allowing the boys 'n blue to take a 3-0 strangle-hold lead on the Attack. The turn around from the beginning of the first round series against the Otters is simply remarkable when you consider where the Rangers were, practically on the brink of elimination, and where they currently are. Perhaps remarkable isn't even enough to fully describe the situation, the Rangers 7th straight win (4th of that same stretch in overtime) made a new franchise record for most OHL playoff wins in a row by a Rangers team. A games' start a second straight win in overtime out of the Bayshore appeared inconceivable, or at least after the Rangers started filling the Attack goalmouth with shots many resulting in goals in the opening half of the period, not the case after 60 thoroughly entertaining minutes of hockey!
The Rangers spent little time getting this
one started. Michael Richards and Craig Voakes battled for the puck
in the corner Voakes immerged with the puck and despite a check, got a
good opportunity and then proceeded to collect his own rebound scoring
only 67 into the game with the Rangers showing some early dominance.
Theo Peckham gave Rangers' fans a scare when he caught Boris Valabik knee
on knee along the boards at center ice, Valabik appeared to escape the
hit before Peckham caught him with the knee, the Rangers challenged the
Attack on the powerplay but ultimately failed to score, during the backend
of the powerplay Adam Keefe was given a roughing minor after hitting Smyth
into his netminder just after the whistle. This penalty would just
prove to be a catalyst for the Rangers', Jonathon Lehun coughed up the
puck at center ice giving Michael Richards a breakaway opportunity, Richards
would capitalize scoring his 3rd shorthanded goal of the postseason.
It was also the third in 2 games for the Rangers against the Attack, a
very sad stat for the Attack who's powerplay was 0 for 18 during the same
timeframe. The perfect move by Richards' during the breakaway had
hundreds of Rangers' fans on their feet all over the Bayshore cheering
on the Rangers. The Rangers' run of brilliance would end after a
powerplay goal to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Andre Benoit's point
shot was deflected inadvertantly off of the back of an Attack defender
before David Clarkson could get his devilish stick on it, and luckily for
the Rangers went right through Brown. Brown was brilliant at times
after the Rangers took the 2-0 lead early, the same could not be said about
the remainder of the Attack team who were outshot 15-1 at one point, and
went the first half of the period without as much as a shot on goal.
The Attack for the second straight game elected to take their timeout with a 3-0 score, the bleeding stopped, but with the Attack only scoring a single goal over the first two games combined the odds seemed a little insurmountable. Fans ripped into the official: Mark Hicks after the Attack found themselves down a man immediately afterwards. Finally the Attack's #2 rated offensive slowly started to get the team back into the game. Mike Angelidis the scorer of the only other Attack goal in the series drove the net hard and scored on the man advantage late in the period. Igor Gongalsky scored well after the period ending buzzer creating more frustration for Attack fans, an all-time high crowd for a Rangers game: of 3583. Jonathan Lehun would make up for his earlier miscue on the give-and-go. Penalties seemed to arrive in bunches and the Rangers got into trouble with three consecutive penalties against in the second period. Robin Big Snake, a physical and offensive catalyst for the Attack slammed home a rebound still in the first half of the second period tying the game at three and naturally sending Attack fans into a frenzy! The Rangers had three straight poweplays of their own to end the period. Michael Richards similar to Big Snake beat Brown after Craig Voakes' powerplay point shot. After scoring in the first of those powerplay opportunities, the Attack effectively shut down the Rangers powerplay.
The Rangers and Attack traded goals in the third period. Jeff Kyrzakos and Mike Angelidis both scored their 3rd goals of the postseason while participating in goal mouth scrambles. Those tightly knit goals sandwiched an excellent effort by Patrick Davis driving the net, Michael Richards cleaned up putting the rebound past Brown for a hattrick goal. After a thrilling end to regulation, overtime was again necessary. In overtime Brad Richardson nearly scored after a second swipe at the puck that was at the side of the Owen Sound net. The Rangers returned to the other end of the ice and again pressed the Attack. Mike Duco, as he did in the first game of the series joined Clarkson and Richards on the top line. A point shot was half-stopped, then directed at the Owen Sound net area where someone had missed their coverage and David Clarkson was waiting for his 3rd consecutive overtime winner for the Rangers. Richards after his six point performance was first star, Richards' was also first star after an amazing 7-6 come-from behind victory over the Spirit who were backstopped by Brown to a 6-2 lead at one point in the game. Clarkson with the winner was third and Mike Angelidis who scored a pair in a losing cause was the games' second star. Neither netminder could be faulted with any of the goals though neither was at all spectacular, especially Pfligler who came into Kitchener for the last matchup between the two teams practically wearing a Superman cape. The Attack tied the game three times over, they have yet to lead the Rangers in any of the three games.