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House of Pain strikes back, Rangers-Knights even
 


Michael Richards electrifies the crowd after a shorthanded deke on Gerald Coleman. 
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


Round two goes to the Kitchener Rangers and House of Pain, the Rangers crashed and banged for 60 minutes and an explosive record-high crowd of 6,472 chanted, cheered and clapped its way through those 60 minutes as well.  London's undisrupted playoff run, ended with nine-straight wins, perhaps most importantly the Rangers 11-game losing streak to the Knights also came to a halt as well.  More so than in previous matchups the Rangers severely out-hit the Knights, hitting and physical play were to the Rangers' success in winning this series going in, and this game they executed to plan, and very well.  After hundreds of fans lined up exactly one week earlier trying desperately to get tickets for this highly anticipated game things got underway.  As seems to be the case when the Knights are in town Rangers' fans were quick to take exception to the officiating, fans were all over Terry Hobor after a slashing penalty was assessed to Keefe in a first period that was littered with minor infractions.  The slashing penalty was assessed after Keefe tried to bat a bouncing puck out of the air.  Another theme in the first period was the continous returns of Trevor Kell to the London Knights' penalty box.  The Rangers were poised to go down two men but Trevor Kell escaped from the penalty box early and was assessed his own penalty on the play, he was forced to return penalty box not once but twice leaving too early.  The biggest story may have come prior to the start of the game as the Knights announced both Bryan Rodney and Danny Fritsche as scratches: one with an upper body injury and the other with flu like symptoms.  Rodney's loss to the Knights was hard felt with the team already playing without the services of Whitfield and Reddiker on the blueline.

The Rangers picked up their first lead of the series very early in the second period.  Patrick Davis skated to the icing line with the puck and then proceeded to drop it across the top of the crease to Evan McGrath who's backhander (his first goal of the series) beat Coleman, the Rangers' first of the postseason against the Knights' second netminder (in game one they had to contend with Adam Dennis).  Minutes later Matt Lashoff's point shot almost made it through to the goal which would have given the Rangers a 2-0 lead.  The lead proved to be short-lived as Corey Perry intercepted a poor Mark Fraser pass up the middle, he skated in and from a relatively poor angle put a seeing-eye shot under the glove of Eric Pfligler who had played so well to that point.  The Rangers were dominant through the second period but emerged with little more than a 1-1 tie.
 



Brandon Prust was first on Valabik's fight card on this night.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

The third period was a wild one.  Michael Richards only minutes in was sent on his way shorthanded by Adam Keefe who intercepted a Knights' pass at the blueline.  Richards flew into the zone with Perry in chase, and with a slashing minor on the way tucked the puck just under the outstretched leg of Gerald Coleman givingt the Rangers' their second lead of the game.  In the ensuing minutes the Rangers got into trouble in their own zone.  Boris Valabik returned to the ice, but the Rangers with several poor clearing attempts were unable to get the puck to exit the zone.  Eric Pfligler finally dove on the puck allowing the skaters to get in a desperately needed change, to the pleasure of many in attendance.  The Rangesr threatened to go up two goals later in the period when Adam Keefe slammed into the net after Michael Richards was slashed.  The infraction started a chaotic string of events where Michael Richards and Gerald Coleman got into a stick war and eventually Boris Valabik and Brandon Prust emerged from the group in the high slot with their gloves off.  The two heavyweights went toe-to-toe before falling into the ice.  At the end of the play the Rangers had a 4 minute powerplay with Kitchener fan favorite Corey Perry being assessed 4 minutes in slashing minors.  The Rangers had several glorious chances and on their best one, rang the puck off of the cross bar as well as the back of Coleman's head, this prompted a video review that only served to delay the game.

with minutes left in the game Kevin Henderson was injured along the boards infront of the London net, as Josh Beaulieu drove his head into the ice with a cross-check.  DeBoer was livid since there was not even so much as a stopage in play, Henderson eventually found his way to the bench.  The Rangers forecheck was tenacious, their penalty kill was at times as well in the offensive zone.  In the final 90 seconds the Knights pulled their netminder: for an extra attacker.  It didn't take long for Michael Richards to sniff out the empty net.  He charged out to center before carefully lofting a shot into the vacated net insurance for the Rangers.  The next shift the Knights elected to send out a line of Foreman, Thomson and Beaulieu and another mini riot broke out with Boris Valabik man-handling: Foreman with Kelly Thomson trying to come to the rookie winger's rescue.  Cooler heads would prevail as the Rangers finished with a 3-1 victory.  The empty net goal by the Rangers was their first for or against of the playoffs.  The win snapped the Knights' 9-game winning streak, both teams have now won 5 straight playoff games on home ice.  Eric Pfligler was 2nd star, he allowed one goal and assisted on the Rangers' empty net tally.  Boris Valabik had a team-high 14 minutes in penalties.