It's been an odd season to say the least. The Rangers had either dominated or been dominated by some teams and at times there's little ryhme or reason. The Rangers with their victory in Owen Sound currently stand 4-0-0 against the Attack this season, they hold an equal mark against the Erie Otters, their three matches with the Sarnia Sting haven't been remotely close! The same cannot be said about the Soo Greyhounds whom the Rangers just dropped their third straight decision to only 10 days ago at the beginning of the OHL Chirstmas break, nor the Guelph Storm whom they've lost 4 straight against. A standing-room only crowd of 3,343 in Owen Sound - a season-high went home puzzled at the Rangers mastery of the Attack, as their Attack have now dropped 9 straight against the Rangers, including a pair of devastating overtime losses at the Bayshore during the postseason in 2005. The masked man in the first 5 of those losses was none other than Eric Pfligler who immediately became a crowd favourite in Kitchener during the post-season. This year it's been the big guy Dan Turple, who's been absolutely sensational at times against the Attack. Though arguably this was his worst performance against the team, still studded with several huge stops.
The Rangers' penalty kill has been very strong
all season but really set the tone early in this game. They had the
Attack heamed in their own zone at times and worse yet for the Attack,
the Rangers forced several shorthanded chances, including a near break
for Victor Oreskovich who narrowly missed as he cut towards the net.
The Rangers were very strong in the opening period and probably should
have left the opening period with a btter than 1-0 lead. Evan McGrath
put the Rangers up 1-0 only 5 minutes into the period on the man advantage.
Evan McGrath used another forward as a decoy as he walked out from the
corner and wrapped the puck around Conway who was playing in place of recently
acquired: Michael Ouzas who was suspended just before the break.
The Rangers seemed to be winning the battles for the puck and against the
odds maintaining the zone. Late in the first period the shots on
goal read 12-1 in favour of the visiting Rangers, when the Attack finally
did get their second shot of the period many Owen Sound fans gave the team
a bronx cheer. The Attack did spend time in the Rangers' zone but
were also guilty of ringing shots off of the glass at inoportune times.
The Attack would step it up in the second period, but not before a lengthy delay in hitting the ice. The Attack only stepped on to the ice with 15 seconds left in the intermission and took their time in doing so. It equated to a delay of game penalty, there was speculation that since their trainer was away at the under-17's, the replacement trainer (one of the owners) was not overly familiar with the procedure in notifying the team that the period was about to begin. The delay of game penalty was a costly one. David Lomas deflected a Lashoff point early in the powerplay giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Seconds later Mike Duco was robbed by Conway on a two-on-one, Conway lost his stick on the play, but was not guilty of throwing his stick at the puck. But after the big Conway stop the momentum shifted in the favour of the Attack, the Rangers took 3 consecutive overlapping minors. They survived the first two man advantage, but not the second one. With Gyenes and Fraser in the box Mr. Powerplay himself: Mike Angelidis who was extremely impressive against the Rangers during the post-season scored his 24th power play goal and 32nd of the season to put the Attack on the board taking a cross-crease pass from Kyrzakos and making little mistake. McGrath look a lead pass and chipped the puck right through Conway restoring the 2-goal lead. While shorthanded the Attack got a lucky bounce, Tregunna won the faceoff clean back to Theo Peckham who's shot found it's way through Turple. Later in the period Turple would redeem himself with a monster glove stop. The Rangers had chances of their own to put this one away. Kevin Henderson and David Lomas had a few opportunities alone infront of the Attack net. The Rangers also scored a power play goal was disallowed on what appeared to be a phantom goaltender interference call. Things could have and should have been much worse than 3-2 leaving the second period.
In the third period it was Matt Lashoff again with the point shot. Lashoff sent a wrister in from the blueline through a screen while Conway was able to deflect the puck, it went almost directly onto the stick of Craig Voakes who made little mistake with the yawning cage staring at him. After a pair of early minors, one to either team the two referees seemed to let the two teams play, new infraction rules be damned. It may have served to help the Rangers' who's defense was rather exhausted looking. With only 5 dressed including Dan Kelly as the 5th defender. The relaxed rules allowed lots of clutch and grab by Fraser, Gyenes and Pepe especially. Payton Liske did score late for the Attack for his first of the season. Credit was due for Matthew Kang who managed to thread the needle with Mark Fraser attempting to block the pass on the two-on-one. The Attack pressed during the final minutes of the third period, many offensive zone faceoffs. Mike Angelidis was forced to mug a Ranger trying to clear the puck late, but his infraction did keep the puck on the attacking side of center ice and also prevented valuable time from ticking off of the clock. After entering the game with no less than 8 scratches (Valabik, Kindl, Thomson, Bastien, Pelech, Applebaum, Spaling, and Machabee), the Rangers might have left with another two players out Victor Oreskovich left after the first period and did not return to the bench with an upper body injury, Mike Duco took a very hard short in the foot in the final second of the game, perhaps preserving a win for the Rangers. The two teams entered the game tied for 4th in the conference with 39 points, the win put the Rangers out infront with 3 games in hand.