You want weird? Despite the accolades of the 2004-2005 Kitchener Rangers that team never once swept a season-series within their conference, infact they only claimed a trio of season-series sweeps in the supposedly weaker Eastern Conference. This season, only 43 games in the Rangers have already claimed a trio of season-series sweeps, none more impressive than their season-sweep over the Sting where the Rangers notched an incredible 26 goals over four games. The Rangers also hold two-game season-series over the Sudbury Wolves and Barrie Colts prior to this game. After being thoroughly humiliated on home ice twice by the Rangers by 8-1 and 4-0 scores those who remained with the Sting made it their business to show up in Kitchener with some pride and a solid team effort to rattle the Rangers. The Rangers on the other hand appeared to play some really undisciplined hockey out of the gate after a very flat effort in Windsor against the Spitfires absorbing their 2nd shutout loss of the season. Not undisciplined as in with completely unnecessary penalties as they were while playing in Plymouth but undisciplined in how they played defensively. Regardless both "undisciplined" efforts against Western division rivals resulted in the same, an ugly four goals against for the league's best defensive team.
The Rangers did not look good right out of
the gate in this game, when many fans would have expected that there'd
be a fire under the team after dropping a 1-0 decision in Windsor.
The team appeared frustrated, prehaps they were taking too much for granted
in playing a Sting team that at times this season has rarely shown signs
of life, those frustrations culminated 5 minutes in when rough tough guy
fought his way around the Rangers' defense and then wristed a perfect shot
just under the crossbar on the break with Matt Lashoff hot in pursuit,
it was only his third goal of the season - a shorthanded marker.
Anger in his last visit to Kitchener chose to tangle with Matt Pepe after
Pepe had laid out one of his teammates along the boards, on this night
he was far more impressive early but unfortuantely was not seen from again
in the later periods of the game. The Rangers took a pair of penalties
that overlapped by 57 seconds midway through the period. With a spectacular
chance to break open a two-goal lead on the Rangers, disaster occured.
Justin Azevedo and Matt Pepe broke into the zone while playing down two
men on a 2-on-1, Matt Pepe made some room between him and Azevedo
the puck carrier and received a perfect pass, and Pepe waited before launching
a wrister into the top corner of the net on Ryan Nie sniper style.
With the first of the two penalties just expired the Sting regained the lead on the power play, Tomas Pospisil found Jamie Fraser at the side of the net for a relatively easy goal. Just seconds prior to scoring the Sting had fired the puck through the crease behind Dan Turple, unfortuante for the Sting that did not go in as they would have had plenty of time to notch another power play goal thus potentially taking what could have been a dominant 3-1 or 3-0 lead, instead the Sting had to settle for a single-goal lead over the Rangers. As the Sting have learned the hard way this season, the Rangers haven't exactly been challenged in scoring goals against them this season and thus a wide open game was not exactly a good idea against the Rangers. Late in the period the Rangers came back, first Justin Azevedo tipped a harmless looking point shot by Matt Lashoff into the bottom corner of the net from well out, and then Nick Spaling came in while playing on McGrath's wing with Jean-Michel Rizk flanking on the other side, and wristed the puck under Nie's arm. It was a goal that the officials were delayed in calling causing a scramble despite the fact that the puck was in the net on the initial shot. The two late goals were crushing for the Sting and perhaps did some damage to Nie who was spectacular in the first period of a blowout game in Plymouth against the Rangers but still has absorbed 13 Rangers' goals in only 5 periods this season for an abysmal 7.80 goals against average.
All Rangers early in the second period. First an individual effort by Auffrey that resulted in his 14th of the season less than a minute in, Nick Spaling notched his second of the game and 9th of the season only minutes later. The flood gates appeared to be open at this point. Evan McGrath and Matt Auffrey did some great work infront and nearly beat Nie for a 6th goal but seconds later Ryan McInerney slipped past a Rangers' defender and also slipped the puck right under the crossbar with a chip shot, beating Turple who hardly looked unbeatable on this night after a somewhat brilliant performance in Windsor. Only 41 seconds later Daniel Lombardi found Harrison Reed while on a two-on-one rush and Reed simply snapped the puck into the top corner. It may have only been a spearing penalty to Matt McCready that prevented the Sting from completing the comeback, while on the powerplay in the final minute of the second period Justin Azevedo may have just barely beaten Ryan Nie who got a piece of the shot causing it to knuckle as it hit the hit behind him, the initial reaction was no goal, but that decision was reversed much to the dismay of Sting coach Shawn Camp and the Rangers had re-established the momentum. In the third period the Rangers scored a couple of late power play goals to ice the game. Jakub Kindl put a shot off the post and in from the center of the blueline and Mike Duco just narrowly avoided extending his scoreless streak to 8 games with a lazy wrister that beat Nie for the 8th goal of the night in the final minute.