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Lifeless Sting shutout on home ice
 


Matt Auffrey misses the net during his third period penalty shot.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


Tough times for Sarnia, suspensions, injuries, but at times in the home-at-home series where the Sting appeared rather lifeless.  Only a couple of weeks ago many found the excuse that Rob Schremp was pointing out an offending fan while jabbing violently with his stick laughable, but one of the Rangers could have legitimately poked at one of the Sting players in Sarnia to be checking for signs of life in what has been a thoroughly humiliating weekend for the Sting who have one win in their last 16 games, and had Saturday's loss give them a 7 game losing streak on their way into the Christmas break.  The Rangers' on the other had despite some massive player deficiencies of their own, are currently riding a wave where they have had a good handful of dominant victories with a spattering of losses.  For the first since early October Kitchener leapfrogged a few teams in the standings and now find themselves 4th on the conference one point ahead of the Western division leaders, the Plymouth Whalers and Saginaw Spirit whom are currently tied for the lead.

Not too many changes for the Rangers, with the blueline still looking soft they elected to give overager Dan Turple the start for the second game in two nights against the Sting, Turple in his tenure with the Rangers has been rather ordinary in his career against the Sting but was extremely solid in both games this weekend, primarily making the big stops before the Rangers were capable of pulling away with a gigantic lead, for their equally gigantic netminder.  The Sting on the other hand rewarded Friday night's third period performance by rookie Parker VanBuskirk.  Vanbuskirk was spectacular at times in stopping 20 of 21 Rangers' shots in a period where his Sting seemed to give up infront of him after breaking up the Kitchener shutout early in the period.  The only shot to beat VanBuskirk was an unlucky pass from behind the net by his own defenseman that struck Auffrey's skate and deflected right through and over the line.

The Rangers got off to a quick start in this matchup, Julien Machabee started things with a very accurate point shot which appeared to be tipped on the way in towards VanBuskirk, regardless the soft rebound was picked up by Jean-Michel Rizk who made little mistake in scoring his fourth goal of the season.  The Rangers quite litterally tried to give the lead up to the Sting minutes later in the period.  They didn't put the puck in or towards their own net, but Matt Thomson and then just over a minute later Mark Fraser lifted pucks up and over the glass from deep in the Rangers' zone resulting in delay of game penalties to the Rangers.  It was here where Turple earned his shutout and perhaps the win as a struggling Sting team may have picked up some huge momentum with a goal or two on the power play.  The second infraction to Fraser was argued quite emphatically by the Rangers as it appeared that his clearing attempt was directly tipped by a Sting player.  Regardless, Turple made some very strong stops including one sensational glove save through traffic.
 



Cory Konecny jockey's for position infront of VanBuskirk.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

When the Sting failed to score on the power play the Rangers' struck with a power play opportunity of their own.  Two members of the Rangers' grind line of Spaling, Konecny and Bastien were rewarded with time on the second half of the power play and it was Matt Thomson who may have been playing his first shift on the man advantage all season, that put a hard shot on the goal from the point with a one-time.  Thomson's one-timer was deflected by Konecny and then Spaling beat VanBuskirk who was left out of position quite easily for his 5th of the season and second in two games against the Sting.  After the second Rangers' goal, the Sting who were playing their last game before the Christmas break, appeared to really sag and more than less go through the motions through the duration of regulation time.

Early in the second peirod Cory Konecny, came out behind the net with a wrap-around attempt, VanBuskirk fumbled the puck and unfortunately the puck wabbled over the goal line, but just barely before the Sting defender and netminder were able to clear the puck out.  The Rangers got their second power play goal midway through the second period.  Matt Thomson was the catalyst again with the big point shot and Cory Konecny tipped it through VanBuskirk for his second goal of the period.  Though the Rangers pressured through the duration of regulation, there was not much in the way of quality chances from this point in.  Thomson pair of assist were his first OHL points in 13 career games.

After taking a pair of shutouts into the third period the Rangers finally got this one right.  Unfortunately the Sting have been outscored an incredible 16-0 in the first periods' of games against the Rangers, and 18-3 on the season.  With Kitchener holding the season-series lead 3-0, there is only one remaining game for the Sting in Kitchener.  The Sting were forced to play without several key players in the home-at-home series.  Clune, Haley and coach Shawn Camp were suspended while Tomas Pospisil was away at his team's World Junior Championship camp.