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Rangers turn the tables on Battalion on Labour Day

Sean Courtney gets right in the face of netminder Daren Machesney during a Rangers' powerplay.

After letting a pair, or more accurately a trio of rookies duel at the Memorial Auditorium to open the Rangers' exhibition schedule, veterans took centre stage in the penalty-filled rematch.  Eric Pfligler, the Rangers' playoff hero who's OHL fate for the 2005-06 continues to be undetermined, and Daren Machesney a rookie who just may squeeze out veteran Kevin Couture coming off of a very impressive rookie season.  For the Rangers, netminding during the pre-season will be extremely important with the very green (as in inexperienced, not the pea green that make the Battalion unqiue in the OHL world) defensive corps which has featured only one of the Rangers' top 4 defenders in each of the team's first two exhibition games.  The Rangers and Battalion elected to wear the same coloured jerseys as they did in Rangerstown, with one change of not for the Rangers, Dan Gyenes returned to his familiar #24, after Matt Lashoff's return to the lineup wearing #5 along with the captain's 'C', game one captain: Mark Fraser was not dressed.

Unlike the previous game where the Rangers found themselves under seige early, getting caught off guard and trailing 3-0 by first periods' end the Rangers never once trailed in this matchup, though they did allow the Battalion to tie things up three times before finally opening up a two goal lead in the thrid period.  One trend that died immediately was the dominant Battalion powerplay that went 3 for its first 4 in Kitchener, however, the Rangers did allow an early shorthanded marker by: Taylor Raska (a former Plymouth Whalers' first round draft pick).  The Rangers got on the board very early, only 26 seconds in, Justin Azevedo scored unassisted, the game would eventually end the way it started with Azevedo scoring an empty netter to seal the victory for the Rangers, Azevedo also added an assist for a game -high 3 point performance.  Late in the period Justin Piquette was able to score on the man advantage restoring the Rangers' lead after it was lost on a shorthanded goal.  Waterloo native Kyle Sonnenburg would score with only 36 seconds remaining in the opening period to even up the score 2-2.

Justin Piquette gets his stick on a shot during a Rangers' powerplay.

Working and scoring on the powerplay again, Rangers' second rounder: Yves Bastien notched his first exhibition point on a second period Rangers' powerplay.  Michal Klejna who also scored in Kitchener later in the period would again even the score for the Battalion.  Early in the third period Patrick Davis beat Machesney on an unassisted effort, and perhaps the most important goal of the game, Matt Lashoff snapped a shot past Machesney for the Rangers' 3rd power play goal of the afternoon and more importantly their first two-goal lead of the game.  The goal was so important because just over one minute later Michael Kejna scored his third in two games with the Rangers to bring the Battalion back to within one.  Justin Azevedo would close out the scoring with an empty netter.

The Rangers' penalty kill, one of their stronger suits in years past, righted the ship after allowing Battalion goals on three of their first four opportunities in Kitchener, they thwarted the Battalion in 9 of 10 chances this game.  Since allowing those three goals to start the season the Rangers' penalty kill they have killed 13 of the last 14 man advantages, including a pair of two-man advantages on Monday.  They continue to be reliant on the powerplay for their offensive production, they have a trio of man advantage goals in each of the two games, and are 6 of 15 (40%) overall in exhibition play.  One Rangers forward who will be looked upon for some increased production is: Jean-Michel Rizk, the 4th year veteran has been held pointless in each of the first two exhibtion games.  The Rangers completed their revenge on the Battalion during the post-game shootout exhibition: Eric Pfligler stopped Aaron Snow and Brock MacPherson on shotouts while Yves Bastien and Nick Spaling sandwiched goals around a Michael Pelech failed opportunity, an identical pattern to the one established in the Battalion victory one day earlier.