Another rough outing for overage netminder Jeff MacDougald in two meetings with the Rangers this season MacDougald has allowed 13 goals against in only 5 periods, while facing 58 shots on goal, hardly an intense workload but on many occasions the former Petes' netminder was hung out to dry by his team one that is struggling as they approach the Christmas break. The Sting's 6th consecutive loss leaves the team in danger of missing the post-season for one of the first times this season they are sitting on the outside looking in and those teams on the inside appear to be on the up and up. For the first time this season it appeared as if the Sting might be in a selling mood as they unloaded Calgary Flames' first-rounder: Matt Pelech to the London Knights for a pair of young defenders: Matt McCready and Steve Ferry who was a first round pick of the Knights in 2004. Ferry has yet to show his face in Sarnia.
On the Rangers' side of the puck they effectivley limped into the game suffering with injuries and costly departures due to the World Junior Tournament. Defenders: Boris Valabik and Jakub Kindl left for the Slovakia and Czech team camps respectively and an injury suffered in their game with the Greyhounds left the Rangers without any of their covetted 1st NHL draft pick defenders. Matt Lashoff was the member of the defense core hurt in the Soo, he was hit awkwardly in the corner and suffered a concussion. Fate didn't exactly smile on the Rangers midway through the second period as Danny Anger battled with Matt Pepe, with Pepe scoring an impressive victory over the rough and tumble Sting rookie. The fight, initially kept one of the only Rangers' veteran defenders off of the ice for a good portion of the duration of the period initially but the Rangers shut Pepe down for the night after scoring on the power play that was delivered as a result of the instigator minor to Anger and taking a dominant 4-0 lead. Off the ice, forwards: Voakes and Azevedo fell ill to various ailments. Justin Azevedo may be lost for an extended period of time as he is suffering from phemonia.
The Rangers haven't exactly been friendly to
the Sting and part of it may stem from a loss that snapped their 12-unbeaten
streak on November 27th of last season. Since that point the Rangers
have won 5 straight against the Sting, and humiliated Sarnia on their own
ice in a thoroughly ugly 8-1 loss that Sting broadcasters described as
perhaps the single-worst home-ice loss by the Sting in the past 10 seasons.
Unfortunately that embarassment would not fuel the fire in Kitchener as
the Sting appeared to be interested in landing some huge checks but had
little interest in overall competence with the puck at times.
The Rangers didn't have the fluency at the back-end that we're familiar with but the addition of Dan Kelly a blue-chip prospect, certainly didn't hurt their chances on the blueline, with three of the top four defenders out of the lineup leaving Fraser and Pepe out there as the only defenders who had a solid season of OHL play under their belts. Kelly who impressed many at the Rangers' camp, but did not play in any exhibition game, hardly looked out of place on the ice. Kelly, a native of New York moved the puck effectively when called upon and in his first game picked up a pair of assists including one on the powerplay, where he regularly saw ice time in the absence of Kindl, Lashoff, Voakes, Azevedo and Valabik, all of whom spend time on the man advantage regularly playing the points. The power play did experience some hicups but still appeared reasonably effective on the overall.
The game got off to a very quick pace, the Sting losers of 5 straight appeared to come to play with some physical intensity if nothing else. During the first period several players set the tone with some huge hits, and others on both sides finished their checks albeit late sometimes. Most of the play in the first period occured in the neutral zone. Some of the Rangers' defenders appeared a little out of their element and elected to clear the puck more than pass it out of the zone, but the Sting defenders made it hard for the Rangers to retain possession inside the zone, the lines were also radically disrupted with the sudden absence of Voakes and Azevedo. Evan McGrath engineered the play to get the Rangers' first goal, using his wingers driving to the net as decoys, he drove the shortside, was stopped by MacDougald who could not coral the puck, Matt Auffrey stepped into the puck and knocked it over the line for his 9th of the season.
In the second period things began to unravel for the Sting. Early in the period Kevin Henderson and Victor Oreskovich entered the zone on a two-on-one, and Henderson playing the role of the sniper on this night, looked the netminder off of the post for a split-second then ripping the puck into the top corner. Less than one minute later Nick Spaling scored on a broken play opening up a 3-0 lead. David Lomas scored the Rangers only power play goal of the night during Danny Anger's infraction for instigating. Kevin Henderson scored again late in the second period and would be left on the ice during the final couple of minutes in an effort to create a hat trick goal. Henderson's goal was the Rangers' 5th on only 11 shots. Matt Auffrey with a late game goal a puck that was fired off of his foot and in by a Sarnia defender giving him two goals as well. Chad Painchaud broke up the shutout early in the third period and former Storm forward Mark Lytwyn scored in the final second of the game for a 6-2 final. If it were not for rookie netminder: Parker VanBuskirk who was brought in for the third period, things could have gotten really ugly with the Rangers pounding 21 shots on goal while dominating the third period, a period where the official elected to silence his whistle.