It's often said that netminders are your best penalty killers. Though this was an exhibition game, nothing could be more true than the performance of Dan Turple who at times litterally stole the game, as for the second time in two meetings with the Rangers the Colts sent a number of quality shots at the Rangers' net, and got what could only be called an excessive amount of powerplays (14) that all took place before the beginning of the third period. It was almost like a bunch of kids playing street hockey and then dad joins the losing team and no one could score, and nearly to that extent. Ryan Hamilton was able to score on the Colts' 4th power play opportunity in the first period, but only after the Rangers had taken a 2-0 lead. What then occured was a seemingly endless amount of Rangers' minor penalties, including three overlaping minors in the second period. Big Dan Turple held the fort keeping the Colts in check during all three of their two-man advantages. The feat was only enhanced by the fact that the Rangers went with only four very inexperienced defenders, and the Colts had most of their snipers in the lineup including the likes of Cambridge native and recently named captain: Bryan Little, in addition to Hunter Tremblay and Ryan Hamilton. Infact the only way that the game or result really differed from the events in Barrie where the Rangers absorbed an embarassing 9-5 loss were soley the responsibility of the Rangers' third ever overage netminder.
The exhibition schedule has left the Rangers the most crippled on the blueline. They were forced to play with only 4 blueliners, only one of which had spent an entire season in the OHL, much like up in Barrie, but just to make things even more difficult Dan Kelly departed from amongst the Rangers ranks. Kelly will be an important part of the Rangers' future, but he's off to labour in the Tier II ranks for the time being. Dan Gyenes, Matt Pepe, Julien Machabee, and Matt Thomson were probably subject to more time and pressure than they have ever been exposed to at this level, the performance of all four was admirable. Fortunately the Rangers big four (3 of which are NHL 1st round draftees, the fourth being a 3rd rounder) are all at NHL camps: Jakub Kindl (Detroit), Boris Valabik (Atlanta), Matt Lashoff (Boston) and Mark Fraser (New Jersey) should be returned to the Rangers within the next couple of weeks.
It appeared as if the trend that was established
itself early in Barrie, might be well on its way to reversing itself in
Kitchener in the early going as the Rangers found themselves the beneficiaries
of some early power play advantages along with a two-man advantage.
As they did in Barrie, the Rangers scored on their only opportunity while
up two men. Craig Voakes' point blast beat netminder Marc Stuart
with Ryan Donally running a very effective screen out infront along with
providing of the assists to the goal, the other coming from Mike Duco,
on the back end of the two-man advantage it was impressive rookie: Nick
Spaling who launched a shot through rookie netminder: Marc Stuart.
Ryan Hamilton replied for the Colts with their only power play tally of
the night after some immense pressure on the Ranger' net.
Sean Courtney and Mike Duco would combine on one of the most exciting offensive plays of the game in the second period, though some of Turple's stops may have rivaled their performance for competition on the highlight reel. Sean Courtney feathered a pass over the blueline and Duco's speed took over from there. He seemed to simply surge through the defenders and he snapped a wicked shot of the glove hand of Stuart. As many of the Rangers' exhibition rivals have seen from the Rangers, the Colts elected to switch netminders roughly half-way through the second period. Enter: Andrew Perugini, Craig Voakes got busy again on the Rangers' power play extending the lead to 4-1. Just prior to the end of the period Billy Burke and Nikiforov combined on a two-on-one rush, beating Turple top side, after a cross-the-crease pass.
The Rangers put the game out of reach in the third period, with Craig Voakes filling in on the blueline while 4-on-4, the Colts were assessed a delayed penalty, and with Turple on the bench Craig Voakes found himself in familiar territory quarter-backing the power play or at least a pseudo power play as the Rangers were up 5 skaters to 4. Kevin Henderson beat Perugini for his pre-season first, the Rangers effectively played keep-away with the puck and were aided by the fact that one Colt lost their stick during the play. Jean-Michel Rizk gave the Rangers a dominant lead after tipping a Justin Azevedo shot on the powerplay, for Rizk it was his 3rd goal in 2 games. Mike Roelofsen scored what could at best be called a weak goal after a momentary lapse in concentration by Turple who kicked out a terrible rebound.
Through three periods the Rangers were outshot 42-30, the Rangers' power play, strong throughout the exhibition schedule was dominant in this matchup going 4 for 9. Both Mike Duco (1-2) and Craig Voakes (2-1) each had three point efforts. 1st round selection: Mike Pelech had a 2 point effort, Azevedo and Pepe also had two assists a piece. The Rangers who have struggled with the shootouts really struggled to give Andrew Perugini much of a chance to shine, Voakes and Duco didn't come up with the right combination of moves, and Azevedo's shot didn't appear to end up anywhere remotely close to being on goal. Dan Turple stopped Bryan Little and Hunter Tremblay before rookie Vladimir Nikiforov scored on the Colts third attempt, the Rangers completed the exhibition schedule with two wins and two losses, and only 1 of 4 shootout wins.