Regardless of efforts, skating, talent and even a decided edge in play, the game always boils down to goaltending. A big stop, or a big gaff can radically change the entire scape of the game. It's a tough position made for young netminders - in the OHL at least who have to have a thick skin to survive. For Dan Turple a horrible giveaway could have caused a catastrophic chain of events during the third period that could have culminated quite easily in the Rangers' second straight loss. But after an entire game of bailing his team out, the Rangers put up a strong wall of defense in front of the Rangers' trusty netminder and their 4 X 6 net. Payback is sweet sometimes, the best payback is for earlier favours. In the instance of the Rangers' they realistically could have found themselves out of the game by the end of the first period, facing the not-so-friendly prospect of having to comeback from a multi-goal deficit to Daren Machesney, the celebrated Battalion netminder who was named player of the week, the second consecutive Brampton player to have received the honour after Luch Aquino took home the award a week earlier.
This was probably not a good time for the Rangers'
to face such a strong foe as the Brampton Battalion who have been kicking
butt and taking numbers of late. After what may have been the most
devastating loss of the season against the rival Knights, the Rangers appeared
in full-fledged: "tough loss hangover mode during the first period.
The Battalion came out on fire, outskating the Rangers' and the top unit
of Snow, Wolski and Aquino was just simply dominant looking! In the
opening minutes, the Rangers were extremely fortunate not to be scored
upon. A power play gave the Rangers' some reprieve, but it didn't
take too long for the Rangers to fall back on their heels again.
Mike Duco went to the box for interference and while killing the penalty
Kevin Henderson was a little too agressive with his stick taking yet another
offensive zone infraction putting the Rangers down two men. It didn't
take long for the Battalion to convert, only 18 seconds into the two-man
advantage Luch Aquino took a back door pass and blasted the puck past Turple.
After Aquino's game opening goal, it was pretty much all Battalion through the remainder of the period. It was only Turple and perhaps some good fortune that kept the Battalion from expanding their lead. With a dominant period for the Battalion coming to a close Evan McGrath forced his way into the Brampton zone and with defenders forcing his hand managed to undress star netminder Machesney and draw the Rangers even with a team that had severely outplayed them through the first period. In the second period it was the Rangers that turned the tables and Daren Machesney, like Dan Turple a period earlier was on the hot seat with the Rangers taking the play to the Battalion heaming them into their own zone and even on the penalty kill terrorizing the Battalion. Much like in the first period when Luch Aquino ended a Rangers' power play by tormenting the Rangers while on the forecheck, Kevin Henderson quite litterally drew the Battalion nuts while on the penalty kill eventually drawing a power play for the Rangers' to work with. It wasn't until the final minutes of the middle frame when the Rangers' outshot the Battalion 13-6, that the Rangers were finally rewarded with a go-ahead-goal. David Lomas, the strong overage forward simply kept on his feet infront of the Battalion net eventually flipping the puck past Machesney who was struggling to locate it.
Taking nothing away from the excitement of the Evan McGrath goal at the end of the first period, Jean-Michel Rizk's eventual game-winner might have been the most lazer accurate shot of the night. Jean-Michel Rizk and Matt Lashoff broke out of the zone on a two-on-one. Rizk gave the puck to Matt Lashoff, the quicker of the two to cross the line with. Rizk went to the side of the goal and Lashoff made a highlight reel behind-the-back-pass to Rizk who despite perfect positioning by Machesney managed to chip the puck perfectly over the shoulder of the netminder for a critical two goal lead. Immediately afterwards the Battalion got their big chance, their own two-on-one, it was broken up but unfortunately the puck came loose to a Battalion forward who's point blank chance along with the rebound were stopped cold by Turple. Later in the period while on the power play, the Battalion would get their break. With Turple out to play the puck and Aaron Snow came in hard on the forecheck, he intercepted the pass, and took the puck to the empty net for an easy goal. The Battalion barely got a sniff of the net from that point onwards, they barely had the opportunity with which to pull their netminder for the extra attacker. The Rangers didn't score on any power plays, marking the first time in 7 games where they did not score at least two goals on the man advantage.