It's all about bad karma for the Rangers right now, first on Friday night Mike Duco and Evan McGrath fell victim to the video scoreboard (Sports Illustrated Magazine cover) jinx, being touted in Rangers' trivia as the only two Rangers to have recorded points in all 9 games to that point, the Rangers were shutout and unfortunately those two streaks came to a screeching halt. On Sunday afternoon it was an innoscent mistake by the Storm PA announcer when reporting on the out-of-town scores, "Erie leads Kitchener 4-2." The Otters were leading the Spitfires by two, but the odd misuce pretty much accurately predicted the Rangers-Guelph final, an unlikely final with the Rangers skating through the third scoreless and the two teams appearing prepared for an overtime session and perhaps shootout at the end, the Rangers in 11 games this season have seen neither. Still on this afternoon even an overtime loss or shootout loss might have been somewhat of a moral victory, instead the Rangers dropped the game with 65 seconds left on the clock and a three-game road trip starts off on a sour note. There were some positives for the Rangers to take from this matchup, just not the precious points that the team needs to start ascending in the standings.
After a day off, a luxury that the Storm were
not afforded as they were playing their third in three days, the Rangers
got off to a very slow start though they were clearly the more rested team.
Call it a revolving door, Lashoff in and Valabik out. Matt Lashoff
saw action in his first game since the Rangers' 6-3 triumph in Guelph earlier
in the season, on the opposite end Boris Valabik was sitting out for what
appeared to be the only game in his suspension after receiving a match
penalty late in the third on Friday night for slew-footing Plymouth's Gino
Pisellini. The result was a rather obvious, but almost radical shift
in specialty teams. After the Rangers and Whalers combined for a
rather pitiful 1 for 24 on the man advantage the Rangers saw one of their
premier penalty killers scratched due to the suspension, but on the flip
side a breath of fresh air was infused into the struggling powerplay with
Lashoff's pressence on the point. The Rangers took a succession of
4 minors in a row in a timespan of less than 5 minutes. The Storm
whom were quite obviously the faster team out of the gate, capitalized
very quickly. Tyler Doig took the puck in on a rush and played it
off of his foot and on to his stick blade, beating Turple who's positioning
left something to be desired. Minutes later, Ryan Callahan scored
on a powerplay as well banging in a rebound past Turple.
History has a way of repeating itself and on this afternoon it nearly did. The Guelph Storm were completely dominant but didn't put enough shots on goal and when they did Dan Turple was there to close the door. On the offensive side, the Rangers finally got some life, on the powerplay, Patrick Davis kept on pounding away at a loose puck until it finally slipped under the outstretched pad of Ryan MacDonald who was down but not out, he just couldn't freeze the puck. Justin Azevedo nearly tied the game, but found his stick tied up and could not coral the puck. Of more significance than those calls made were some of the obvious ones missed, during the first two periods there were two very questionable and blatant hits on first Matt D'Agostini, a retaliation hit, in a dangerous proximity of the boards without the puck in sight and then another collision that left top scorer Ryan Callahan shaken up. In the second the Rangers powerplay started showing signs of some very poor trends, often times being out chanced by the Storm penalty kill the urgency to leave the defensive zone certainly wasn't there. Matt Lashoff nearly sprung Craig Voakes on a breakaway, but earlier in the period also struggled with the sticky ice and yielded a clear-cut breakaway to Tyler Doig. Big Dan Turple stood tall and deflect the huge scoring chance off of his blocker into the corner. Late in the period, again on the powerplay Evan McGrath simply cleared the puck from the corner directly infront of the net where Matt Auffrey tipped it in to tie the game, scoring his first career OHL goal; with the touch that he did display it appears as if it might be the first of . . . many.
Turple came up with a couple of huge glove saves in the third period, one on a lazer-like shot from the point. Of huge concern was an extremely violent collision between Craig Voakes and Storm netminder: Ryan MacDonald. Drew Doughty took the feet out from underneath Voakes on his way to the front of the net and the two collided without warning head-to-head leaving both startled and delaying the game. MacDonald spent nearly a minute motionless in the crumpled in the net, and a handful more time after being attended to by the Storm trainer. The Rangers with a penalty to Doughty on the play did not pressure MacDonald who was obviously shaken on the play. But the Rangers comeback went all for not, with 65 seconds left in regulation Ryan Callahan did some brilliant work along the boards, Matt D'Agostini took the puck skated right infront, avoiding a Turple poke-check and moving around the frustrating Rangers' netminder. Callahan would also stirke with the Rangers' net vacated giving him three points on the net, including a pair of goals, overall a poor start to a key road trip that will make stops in Sault Ste. Marie and Saginaw before the Rangers return to the friendly confinds of the Memorial Auditorium.