From a haven to horrendous. It seemed no matter what the season, the Otters building is a hard place for any team to take a couple of points. This season appears to be the exception. The Otters who just snapped a 10 game losing streak early in the weekend, failed to snap another pair of dubious 8-game streaks, as both were extended to 9 games. The Otters have lost to London in back-to-back games via the shootout. But against the Rangers they trailed nearly from the get-go and never really got going in what was the third of three games in three nights in Erie. The Erie Otters have now lost nine consecutive decisions to the Rangers, dating back to game three of the first round of the 2005. The Otters also dropped their 9th straight home game at the Tulio, an unconfirmed franchise-high while in Erie. Regardless undesirable, also undesirable was the sparse crowd at the Erie Civic Center. Attendance has been a sore point for the team during this season, but against the Rangers, the Otters traditionally draw really well. Unfortunately this was not one of those nights as cities from Kitchener-Buffalo and down to Erie were blanketed with extremely wet slush-like snow that kept fans away from the Tulio and many people off of the streets altogether. It's not the first time that a Kitchener-Erie game has seen poor attendance due to the elements, the announced crowd of 4,472 appeared much smaller.
The Rangers got the lead early and with the
exception of only just over 5 minutes in the first period, the Otters trailed.
The Otters entered the game trailing the Greyhounds for the 8th and final
playoff spot in the west, by five points, that deficit grew by night's
end as the Otters' frustration also grew. Their prognosis at this
point is a rather poor one, it's not just the deficit and their recent
losing ways but the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at least are the beneficiaries
of a much easier schedule. Speaking of frustrations, the Rangers
got one player back who's season has been filled with frustrations, Myles
Applebaum, who changed his number from 61 to 91 in the off-season returned
to the Rangers lineup on Friday, he's trying to rescue a season ravaged
with injuries. Applebaum put the Rangers up 1-0 very early in the
first period, he took a feed from Spalin who was behind the net and beat
Disher through the five-hole.
Otters' star: Ryan O'Marra has been hot of late and he managed to tie up the game for the Otters at the half way point of the first period. O'Marra while on the power play just barely snuck the puck under Turple who could not find the rebound. Frightning scene for the Rangers as Turple appeared to be making the same desperation swipe with his glove that cost him in the postseason last year, as he seperated his shoulder. But an old nemesis bit the Otters again and that being their penalty kill. Their penalty kill against the Rangers. With 11 goals in only 37 opportunities stretched over 4 head-to-head games this season, the Otters can very easily identify the root cause of most of their struggles with the Rangers this season, this night was hardly any different, specialty teams were huge. In all, both teams scored two and allowed two goals while on specialty teams. With the score tied at one-a-piece, the Rangers power play went to work, and with their first two chances they scored both goals, little surprise that it was power play specialist and former Windsor Spitfire David Lomas infront of the net, the second was a picture-perfect tip by the sniper. For Lomas it was two goals in only 1:14, and two game winning goals in two games as the second goal by Lomas stood up as the winner in this matchup.
In the second period the Otters nearly got a lift when Derrick Bagshaw scored shorthanded bringing the Otters back to within one. But the bounces just wouldn't go the right way for the Otters. Bagshaw's shorthanded goal was his second shorthanded goal in two games, he wired a wrist shot under the crossbar on Turple. Michael Blunden put the puck off of the same post twice with Turple down and out and things would go from bad to worse for the hard-luck Otters. The Rangers with a strong forecheck heamed the Otters into their own zone and with the bench nearby, managed nearly a wholesale change, the Otters with the bench in the offensive zone were not as lucky and with each failure to clear the puck, defenders trapped on the ice became more tired and more frustrated. Cory Konecny finally deposited a rebound past Disher restoring the two goal lead. The third period would conclude with numerous stoppages caused by the Rangers while trying to kill off the clock. The Rangers and Otters have 3 more head-to-head matchups remaining in their 8-game series. In 2002-2003 the Rangers took all eight meetings with the Otters, this season the Rangers have the first 5.