After another outburst last night with a constant parade of Whalers going to the penalty box, the Rangers added to their already astonishing power play totals. The Rangers have scored a total of 21 power play goals in their last 6 games. What's relieving is that, after a weekend where the Rangers failed to score one 5-on-5 goal, their dependance on the power play went out the window against the Owen Sound Attack and the Plymouth Whalers, a pair of stronger teams that they are currently chasing in the standings. Infact, in both efforts it could be very easily argued that the power play sputtered and only finally got up to speed when the game was out of reach, case and point would be the two power play goals against Owen Sound in the final three minutes of regulation on Friday. Saturday's struggles were another thing altogether. They ran into a super hot goalie in Ryan Nie, someone whom Rangers' fans are well acquainted with after Nie effectively shut the Rangers down leading to a 5 game series upset in the first round of the 2004 playoffs. The Rangers left the period up 1-0 on a Mike Duco power play goal, but the mood in the Rangers' dressing room couldn't have been overly positive, the Rangers had 6 man-advantage opportunities and only managed to score when a two-man advantage presented itself, they were putting the rubber on the net but nearly all of it was coming into contact with overage netminder: Ryan Nie who shut the door despite a rather humbling 25-3 shots on goal advantage by the Rangers.
Goals from the less likely sources for the
Rangers seemed to provide a source of momentum. Cory Konecny scored
his first goal as a Ranger en route to a career-high in points. His
goal was key as it finally gave the Rangers some desperately needed breathing
room considering that the Rangers had held so much of the play and failed
to be rewarded for much of the game with any scoring. Nick Spaling
would pick up the only assist on the goal, Spaling had sat in the stands
during the previous two Rangers' games, as strictly a victim of the numbers'
game. First-round draft pick Mike Pelech would be forced to sit during
this game along with first-year 18-year-old: Sean Smyth. The Rangers
really broke the game open at the midway point of the second period.
Jean-Michel Rizk gave the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead, and soon after
Mike Duco stormed into the Whalers' zone on a shorthanded break, and his
shot beat Ryan Nie, the goal was even-strength because the Ranger in the
box emerged just as Duco crossed the blueline into the Plymouth end.
Oreskovich scored his second goal in only his second game on the power
play late in the period to help the Rangers emerge from the first two periods
with a 5-0 lead..
With the game starting to look more and more one-sided as the minutes ticked by, the attention turned ot the heavyweights on the ice representing either team. Late in the first period Jared Boll and Mark Fraser dropped their gloves, threw some punches and fell to the ice together, but that was just an undercard matchup for the night's main event. After a rather long and annoying hugfest in Kitchener, the OHL's current #1 toughguy: Boris Valabik (as ranked by OHLtoughguys.com) and Whalers' toughguy: Gino Piesellini (ranked #2 by the same source) dropped their gloves and went toe-to-toe. No chance after this bout that Pisellini will be advancing in the fighter ranking, Valabik got Pisellini's jersey up over his head and started raining into the head of the challenger, for the time being Valabik is the OHL's undisputed champion. Dan Collins snapped Turple's shutout early in the third period on the power play, Jakub Kindl replied for the Rangers' minutes later on the power play, for Kindl the goal closed out a 3 point, second star performance, Kindl now has 5 consecutive games with at least two points a game, points in eight straight and has 13 points in his last 5 games.
James Neal and Jared Boll scored goals within 1:23 midway through the third period to bring the Whalers to within 3 goals of tying the game. Nick Spaling closed out the scoring in the final minute of play scoring his 3rd of the season in the game's final minute. Both teams quite litterally filled the gamesheet with coincidental minors for roughing much of it coming after the whistle. For Kitchener it was sweet revenge after a game in Kitchener filled with missed opportunities to start and then Plymouth taking it to them in the second half of a 3-0 shutout, the only time Kitchener has been shutout all season long. In all 12 Rangers had their names' appear on the scoresheet, Lomas for the first time in a Rangers' uniform was held completely off of the scoresheet and point-leader Evan McGrath only managed an assist. It would appear that the Rangers survived without those two snipers making a contribution on the scoreboard this night because of the efforts of the other 3 lines.