Someone's winning streak had to be broken, there's no more ties in the new OHL. And something had to give at the JLC in London. Apparently it wasn't going to be the Rangers' 8 game winning streak, they extended it to nine, but in the process weren't able to draw even with the Knights atop the Midwest division. The breaks didn't go the way of the Rangers early in the game. The Rangers were holding the play, but their star netminder Dan Turple picked up an injury on a Robbie Schremp wrister. Anyone who's seen a Robbie Schremp wrist shot knows exactly how hard his wrister is, Turple got bent out of shape taking the shot off of the inside of his left left and spent the remainder of the game struggling. The big Rangers' netminder still had a very strong effort, albeit a very laboured looking one, and fans at the JLC knew it. Those who didn't realize early, realized it as the game went on Turple wasn't his quick self along the ice, but he did continue to provide the Rangers with competent goaltending. The Knights' power play, best in the league, ran head-to-head with the league's best penalty kill which now tops 88%, and the result was that the Knights were "Turpled!" It wasn't for a lack of opportunities, the Knights and a pair of underappreciated officials manufactured 12 power play opportunities including one lengthy two-man advantage.
Despite a pair of surging teams, both with
lineups that looked rather complete the game was relatively boring at some
points. There was an air of conservative play as neither team really
wanted to open up and risk giving the opposition the upper hand.
The first period was mostly Rangers and they were finally rewarded when
Cory Konecny snapped off a shot immediately after the puck hit the tape
on his stick from Nick Spaling. The Rangers could have had more but
a familiar foe, Adam Dennis and history stood in their way as the Rangers
had not won in London in 10 visits and are a 2-9-0-2 (win-loss-tie-overtime
loss) lifetime at the John Labatt Centre. Things seemed to slow entering
the second period and Turple seemed to slow more and more, trying to get
back to his feet after making stops along the ice. The Rangers appeared
to have the dangerous Rob Schremp off of his game, they got him in the
box a couple of times and perhaps most importantly kept him, Bolland and
Hunter all off of the scoresheet.
The start of the third period was surely a sign that perhaps the fates were conspiring against the Rangers in London. A bad bounce behind the net off of Turple's stick led to an easy goal for the tenacious Jordan Foreman. The Knights drew even and it seemed to only encourage the Rangers who peppered Dennis wtih 20 third period shots. Dennis made several spectacular stops, but the Rangers infront of the net were at times guilty of redirecting far, far too many shots wide of the goal. The Rangers were extremely effective in killing a second period two man advantage for the Knights in the second period and again were tested in the third period as the Knights picked up a late power play with a chance to spoil everything for the Rangers and send them packing with no points to show for their effort. The Rangers dominated in overtime, the Knights had their chances but were thwarted on boardline plays, as the Rangers successfully bent the rules for the first time that night. The officials appeared to throw away the whistle, until an event occured in the Rangers' zone that changed the course of the game. Jordan Foreman was leading a rush, he was pushed to the ice while off-balanced by Valabik and no call was made, as the puck continued up ice and stalked Valabik.
As Foreman caught up with Valabik it was obvious that his anger had also caught up with him. He raised his stick on Valabik several times resulting in a high sticking minor at the tail end of overtime. The sell-out crowd was extremely vocal in voicing their displeasure with the officials and the Rangers in general, as boos and chants of "we wanna ref" circulated around the JLC. Only minutes earlier Dylan Hunter appeared to have been pulled down while on a breakaway. The Rangers called a timeout as the Knights did earlier in the game as they prepared for a two-man advantage. The power play didn't score quickly but it generated continuous pressure through the remainder of overtime. A point shot by Jakub Kindl and tipped by David Lomas who had his third game winner in 4 games brought an ugly game to an even uglier end as London fans pelted the ice and likewise the officials with garbage in protest. For Mike Duco and Mark Fraser it was their first games in a little while, rookies Mike Pelech and Yves Bastien were forced to sit the game out as healthy scratches.