If the Spirit are going to make the postseason, it'll have to be a season filled with firsts, for one making the post-season, other might be a better than .500 record, last weekend it was the first win for the mid-Michigan squad in London, this week it was the team's first win in Kitchener. Unlike the sloppy 10-7 affair in London the Spirit picked up a big performance between the pipes, and were rather opportunistic around the Rangers' net. They had to be. The Rangers only yielded 4 shorthanded opportunities, and furthermore, their penalty kill has been operating at a near 90% cliip since season's start, it was an aspect of the game readily tested by the Rangers during the exhibtion schedule. Hockey is also a cruel game, no team or players know it as the players of Saginaw Spirit past. On a winning night, Patrick Davis is remembered for the 2 goals he scored, unfortunately when your team loses the spotlight reverts to the goal that was missed while one a two-man breakaway where he kept with Evan McGrath in trail and could not beat Francois Thuot who also robbed Craig Voakes who was also sprung on a breakaway.
For a period that ended in a scoreless tie
the first period was electric, the Rangers had the Spirit heamed
in early and just couldn't execute, one of the most agonizing instances
saw the puck curl towards the net, and then once it hit the goal line curl
away from the line as it approached the post. The Rangers took the
first three man-advantages of the night, and really appeared to miss Matt
Lashoff on the point. Matt Lashoff, a regular on the point last season
with veteran Andre Benoit had his presence clearly missed, as the Rangers
attempted to compensate using Jakub Kindl, Craig Voakes, Matt Pepe and
Justin Azevedo, most of whom struggled to replace the savy skills of Lashoff
at the point that had the Rangers click on 8 powerplay opportunities already
going into the Rangers' 3rd home game of the season. A key to the
first period was a lengthy two-man advatage when both Pelech and Azevedo
found themselves in the box with the penalties overlapping by 1:37, the
Rangers' impressed on the penalty kill and while losing one of their power
play specialists they regained a penalty kill master: Boris Valabik.
The Rangers did a good job, but perhaps were caught off guard by a 120
foot pass by Michal Birner from his own goal line on the stick of former
Wolve: Ryan McDonough who was absolutely robbed by Dan Turple on the ensuing
After off-loading so much talent to the Spirit and receiving so many helpful players in return it was only a matter of time before some of those former players started to haunt the Rangers. The first was 2004 2nd round draft pick and St. Louis native Jack Combs, he scored the first of 4 Saginaw goals on this night stepping out infront of Turple then using a backhander to beat the Rangers' netminder, for Combs it was his 3rd of the season after going scoreless through the 2004-05 season after scoring in the season's second game in London. Joe McCann the other former Ranger playing for the Spirit did not score in this game, but has accumulated 4 points already in the young season. The Rangers' powerplay in the second period stumbled again failing to generate pressure and perhaps more of mention the chaos and disorganization that they forced both Guelph and Windsor into in victories over those two teams. After missing on the two-man break late in the second period Patrick Davis scored on a chip shot on the powerplay early in the third period taking a pass from Evan McGrath, the goal occured during the new Kitchener promotion, the minute of noise where each section competes for one minute to make the most noise.
Momentum seemed to chance hands at the midway point of the period. During a Rangers' powerplay Thuot appeared to be injured, but with Ryan Daniels readying himself to play, Thuot elected to stay in the game. At the opposite end, Matt Corrente took a breakaway and when gloved by Turple, Zach Torquato started a scrum enduring the wrath of Rangers' defender Boris Valabik who would eventually join him in the box with a coincidental minor. Jesse Gimblett managed to occupy the attention of both Turple and Fraser infront of the Rangers' goal, and while there tipped a harmless looking point shot by Matt Corrente. Michal Birner added an insurance marker only 33 seconds later. The Spirit would need it as McGrath and Davis would connect again on the powerplay. The Spirit really picked up their netminder in the dying minutes of the game. After a delay of game penalty to netminder Francois Thuot, one that was protested by the netminder who chopped the puck into the netting behind the goal after the call, in his defence there was some pressure demonstrated by the Rangers on the play, after what appeared to be a key infraction, the Spirit turned the tables on the Rangers. Michal Birner, turned on the jet blasting through the Rangers' defence and finally going in all alone besting Turple on the backhand deke. Penalty box frequent flyer Boris Valabik did not donate any man advantages to the Spirit, but did draw two penalties during the game. The Rangers can expect the return of power winger: Ryan Donally to the lineup when they meet up with Owen Sound Attack on Saturday. Sean Smyth dressed in his first game as a Ranger. At the end of the night, the Spirit are both first in the division and first in the conference after dropping their home opener 7-2.