The beat goes on, it's not just the Rangers against their highway 7 rivals, the Guelph Storm, another battle brews. A battle similar to David and Goliath, and at this point it would appear that David's people are winning the war over Goliath, and his skaters. The battle we speak of, is one of veteran netminders: Dan Turple of the Rangers and Ryan MacDonald of the Storm. And sure, starting netminders play a big part of any rivalry where teams meet as often as the Rangers and Storm have, but what's unique is that neither coach seems to want to blink going into these games. Peter DeBoer has opted to enter each game with his 'economy-sized' starter while Dave Barr, the Storm head coach has elected to also run his starter Ryan MacDonald a more 'Happy Meal' sized netminder in the Storm net. Still, it's intriguing how two teams could string together 8 consecutive starts against each other with each team starting the same netminders, spanning two seasons, infact the last time that the two rivals played each other without both regular starters tending betweent the pipes would have been in January of last season! The OHL doesn't have rules enforcing the use of netminders and spreading out games so 4-point matchups that the Rangers have against the Storm, why not put your best foot forward? It's clear that both teams have, and at this point the Storm hold the hot hand with a 5-3 edge overall including 4 straights wins, Turple has the only shutout which occured on the road in Guelph.
Much like the winning streaks that the Rangers
have been enjoying over the Attack and Otters that both stand at 7 games
a piece, the Storm have the Rangers' number and they don't appear overly
interested in relinquishing their hold on the Rangers. The Storm
have now taken 4 in a row and without some early season heroics in Guelph
along with a huge come-from-behind win the Rangers would have lost all
5 that they have played against the Storm. It's not a case of a bad
bounce here or there for the Rangers, the Storm seem to move as well as
any team in the OHL, and they get full marks for their efforts against
the Rangers, the last two of which occured after arguably the Storm's worst
performance of the season against the Wolves on home ice where they yielded
5 consecutive goals in a 5-1 loss. Penalties were the downfall of
the Rangers in this battle, much like they were the downfall of the Storm's
defensive game in the previous matchup in Guelph. The Rangers yielded
a pair of substantial two man advantages in the first period and both resulted
in goals against. Unfortunately, in both instances Rangers' blueliners
who were a little overzealous in their pursuit of the puck drew the second
minors. Tyler Doig scored the first of the two Storm goals, he narrowly
beat Boris Valabik who slide infront of the partially empty net and then
Turple who in desperation attempted to slide over.
The Storm made it 2-0 just one second after their two man advantage expired and suddenly the Rangers found themsevles in a familiar place down a pair of goals to the Storm in the first period. D'Agostini whom has tormented the Rangers throughout the season had some time alone nfront of the net and beat Turple along the ice, Turple had to be anticipating a possible pass on the play with several Storm players lurking around the crease. Surprisingly it wasn't the story of MacDonald stops in maintaining a shutout through two periods, but some pretty good heorics Dan Turple in maintaining only a two goal advantage. The Rangers had a much improved effort but the Storm continued to play an extremely smooth transition game using their speed to frustrate the Rangers. Perhaps most impressive was the Storm penalty kill that shut down the potent Rangers' power play for the first time in 10 games. The Rangers' couldn't really get a sniff of the net, they struggled tremendously when given a chance up two men for over a minute, shots weren't getting through and players at times were guilty of not moving around enough to show the Storm penalty killers some new looks.
The Rangers did get some offence late in the third period. Rookie Sean Smyth scored his first ever OHL goal and suddenly the Rangers' were within one goal. Smyth tipped Jakub Kindl's point shot past Ryan MacDonald breaking up the shutout. Two of the three Rangers' goals against the Storm were scored by less heralded rookies. The Rangers struggled in the dying minutes and never were capable of pulling their netminder, Matt D'Agostini netted an insurance goal after pulling Turple off of the post in the final minute of the game with exhausted defenders: Jakub Kindl and Matt Lashoff trapped in their own zone and looking tired and frustrated in the process. Matt D'Agostini was an easy selection as first star after scoring the winner and insurance markers. His partner in crime: Ryan Callahan was completely held off of the scoresheet, and as a result kudos went to top Rangers' defender Boris Valabik who was effective in his assignment and also stayed out of the box in doing so. His reward was the 2nd star at the end of the game. An improvement over the effort on Sunday, but the veteran players still appeared to be very fragmented in their play. One of the stronger units included rookies: Sean Smyth and Michael Pelech who were joined by rugged overage winger: Ryan Donally.