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Hughes hat trick lifts Bulls over Rangers
 


Andrew Maksym and his teammates celebrate their late second period goal to give the Bulls their second lead of the game.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


The Lomas impact wasn't immediate, that's for sure.  David Lomas arrived in Kitchener in time for the game, but was incapable of being a game-changing force that could lead the Rangers to victory against the Bulls.  Since leaving Oshawa head coach George Burnette has forged a reputation for winning ugly and this game wasn't an exception to that trend.  If it wasn't the rather dry defensive effort of the Bulls, it was the many bruises from blocked Rangers' shots by skaters who were willing to sacrifice themselves to protect their net.  The Rangers were dominant early outshooting the Bulls 11-2, despite a pair of two-man advantages for Belleville.  The Bulls, with a game in Erie the previous night a 2-1 win where they were outshot by a similar margin, probably had them a little groggy on the way into Kitchener.  The Rangers after killing an early and lengthy two-man advantage, got to work on the powerplay in the first period.  It was one of the best looking Ranger power plays of the season.  Justin Azevedo, and Jakub Kindl moved the puck around very effectively and weren't shy about blasting heavy shoots from the point.  They had the Bulls on their heals and Evan McGrath found a one-timer that he effectively buried, giving Kitchener the early upper hand.

John Hughes pounded the puck past Turple, who was simply outmanned as the Rangers' struggled to kill their second pair of overlapping penalties in the first period.  It wasn't half as fluent or good looking as the Rangers' on the man advantage but it got the job done.  The Bulls did appear to score in the final minute of the period, with heavy traffic infront Turple may have had the puck enter the net as he backed in.  After a conference between on-ice officials and one between the referee and the goal judge it was ruled that the puck crossed the line after the whistle was blown.  Seconds later the Rangers wouldn't be so fortunate, Hughes managed to strip the puck off of a Rangers' defender behind the net, and then proceeded to flip the puck up, banking it off of Turple's shoulder and into the net.  The crushing goal scored with only two seconds left in the opening period gave the Bulls their first lead of the night.  Early in the second period Yves Bastien broke in all alone with a chance to knot the score at 2 goals a piece, but the speedy forwards' instincts weren't rewarded as he was turned away by Lalande.
 



David Lomas' tip from infront of the Bulls' net allows the puck to squeak through Lalande while Duco looks on late in the third period.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

Lalande may be the brightest young netminding stars in the OHL, one that the Rangers fortunately or unfortunately only see twice a season.  Lalande was extremely strong in this matchup and has been throughout the season.  It wasn't just Lalande, it was a team defense effort.  The Bulls spent most of the night effectively clogging up the Rangers' shooting lanes, they made it extremely difficult for the Rangers to put shots on goal, and when the Rangers did have a good shot, they weren't shy about taking one for the team.  More than a few Bulls left the ice in some difficult after taking shots off of their feet predominantely on Rangers' powerplays.  The Bulls, who appear to be rebuilding with a very strong core of younger talent have to play a defensive game to stay competitive, they gave up one of their more premier forwards in Waterloo native Evan Brophey, and a veteran defender in Wes Cunningham to acquire Cory Tanaka along with draft picks.  In addition to the loss of these veterans their captain Ryan Rorabeck may be lost for the season with a shoulder injury.  The Rangers did have a lengthy two-man advantage of their own in the second period, they didn't score while up two men put they put some luck while up a single skate.  Jakub Kindl sent a hard point shot in that Lalande kicked out, directly into Duco's skate, and the puck continued back into the net and behind the surprised Bulls' netminder.  Duco didn't have time to react on the play and it was easy for that reason to determine that there wasn't any kicking attempt.

The roof caved in for the Rangers' late in the second period.  Kindl, Henderson and then McGrath picked up a trio of minors within 65 seconds leaving the Rangers crippled to end the period, and the Bulls took full advantage.  First, Hughes shot the puck out from behind the net quickly to Andrew Maksym, who put the puck into the back of the net so quickly that Turple may not have determined which side of the net it was that the puck emerged from.  Only 40 seconds later and still up a pair, John Hughes notched his first ever OHL hat trick, Hughes was the 1st overall pick in the 2004 OHL bantam draft, his shot just barely squeaked through Turple's five-hole.  A huge blow came in the opening minutes of the third period when Jakub Kindl took a shot to the face, he left and required a number of stitches and did not return.  Kindl who has improved defensively and is red hot offensively, scoring 9 points in his last 3 games has vaulted himself into the league's top 10 in defenceman scoring.  It left the Rangers' blueline really shorthanded with Matt Pepe already out due to suspension.  The Rangers had their chances in the third but didn't appear to get desperate until a power play with just over three minutes left in regulation.  David Lomas tipped a Matt Lashoff point shot through the legs of Lalande to bring the Rangers to within a goal, the comeback was threatened by a penalty to Rizk for tripping but the Rangers still managed to get the netminder out and came within inches of sending the game to overtime.  Each team in the end tally had a trio of powerplay goals with all three of Belleville's being scored while up two men, the lone even-strength goal was the ugly bank shot by Hughes.