It's official, London's not the desired destination for the Rangers, at first it's a pass-thru point for the Rangers as they enter the third round, if they survive a battle with what many call the greatest regular season team in Ontario Hockey League history London could potentially become a destination similar to Quebec City for the bad boys in blue. Prior to their work in the 3rd round of the OHL playoffs fans from the Aud (in the postseason it's been the "House of pain" for visitors, who dare skate with their heads down) the sometimes relentless Memorial Auditorium crowd of 6,302 took a brief break for sportsmanship, acknowledging the Attack who chose to motion towards the visiting fans high atop section 19, in return, thousands of fans cheered and applauded back. Not one 'booo' could be heard as Bobby Ryan accepted his prize for being the game's second star at center ice. It was a similar scene to what happened in Erie 5 games ago when the Rangers toppled the Otters in six games on their own home ice. It's a small hiatus, as the 'house of pain' awaits what can only be an ugly showdown with the London Knights. The Rangers' grinders: Duco, Donally, Rizk, and Henderson will be waiting, eagerly looking to grind the Knights' down to a halt. In the meantime, there won't be a broom shortage when it comes to cleaning up the Memorial Auditorium as many found their ways on to the ice at the conclusion of the game, though there might be one in local hardware stores on Wednesday morning.
Before looking ahead to a matchup with the
big green machine (not an ATM) the Rangers would have to dispose of the
Owen Sound Attack. They didn't kill time in getting around to the
inevitable. The inevitable was crushing the Attack, unfortuantely
for Owen Sound fans, the Rangers weren't backing off, it appeared that
every game they were getting stronger, the clinching game 4 in Kitchener
was no exception, the Rangers were almost toying with the Attack at points.
Michael Richards wasted little time in getting started, the Rangers' captain
collected his 8th in 10 postseason games only 1:29 into the first period
and 15 seconds into the Rangers' first powerplay with Patrick Jarrett off
for slashing. Justin Azevedo increased the margin to 2-0 only 1:18
later. Kevin Henderson intercepted a pass, giving it away to the
smallish rookie who roofed the puck on Mike Brown. Mike Stothers
continued to play his go-to netminder: Neil Conway would not see playoff
action. Brad Richardson trimmed the lead to 2-1 on the powerplay
while Kevin Henderson and an Attack defender struggled on the ice, inside
the Attack zone well, well behind the play. Craig Voakes restored
the two-goal lead while on the powerplay later in the period with a lazer
beam from the point. In some instances the Rangers would find creative
ways not to score after jumping out the early 3-1 lead.
The Rangers started the second period down two men, but held off the Attack, and immediately afterwards were forced to killed even more penalties. After success in killing off those penalties Clarkson capitalized on a Craig Voakes cross-crease pass, giving the Rangers a commanding 4-1 lead. The Rangers proceeded to get a little sloppy at this point, an Attack 3-on-1 break resulted in a wrister off of the cross-bar and over the netting. Later in the period Scott Giles would try a similar shot, this time Pfligler wasn't so lucky, the puck did make contact with the post but also a little mesh over Pfligler's catching shoulder. Things started to become a little more doubtful in the third period when Bobby Ryan scored bringing the Attack to within one goal, the timing was key as the goal happened just one second before an Attack penalty was to expire and with the Rangers just having placed a man in the penalty box.
In the second period Patrick Davis had a breakaway, his moves proved insufficient in beating Brown. In the third period he intercepted a pass at the blueline, took it in deep and proceeded to beat Mike Brown with a nasty wrist shot, revenge for the winger who was caught by Sekera only one game earlier in Owen Sound. Davis' unassisted goal seemed to suck the life out of the Attack. Things got a little interesting when David Clarkson took a tripping minor late in regulation, but as it was all night long, keeping the Attack to only one powerplay goal in 11 opportunities, the Rangers' penalty kill was more than up to the task, they also threatened several times to score on the empty net. Fans stood cheering as the Rangers' led by captain Michael Richards and his player of the week performance concluded the Rangers' first 2nd round sweep in decades. The Attack and their franchise record 90-point season could do nothing but be in shock as the Rangers' trounced the heavily favoured Owen Sound team.