It's the inverse of exactly what the Rangers have done to the Erie Otters. The Otters won their last matchup against the Rangers, but only after dropping their first five of the season against their division rivals. Both teams play each other a grand total of 8 times a season. Meaning that the Rangers and Otters, and Rangers and Storm still have 2 head-to-head matchups left this season. The Rangers took the first matchup against the Storm in come-from-behind fashion, but the Storm have since been dominant in every single game, even the lion's share of the first game of the seasons where the two divisional rivals met in Guelph - where the Rangers may have stolen two points on the back of their netminder. This game was more of a case of where things could possibly go wrong they most certainly did. The bounces certainly weren't with the Rangers, and their netminder who's been so consistently spectacular for the team in winning back to back OHL netminder of the month awards can only hope that by the time the end of March rolls around that the selection commitee has all but forgotten this performance and he'll still be in the running for a third consecutive award.
This matchup officiated by Carmen Cox and Ryan
O'Neill was simply poluted with penalties. Signs of the times, it's
been a long while perhaps an eternity but the fans of Kitchener known for
being ruthless on the officials, let them both have it on this night.
But there was a significant twist, instead of booing the officials after
Rangers' penalties, the boisterous crowd of nearly 6,200 let the officials
have it after a Storm penalty. It was at a juncture of the game when
the teams couldn't get together for a sustained 30 seconds of uninterupted
hockey without being stopped for yet another infraction. All told
both teams combined for 14 power plays each, and a combined 7 power play
goals. A far cry from just one evening earlier when the Rangers and
Spitfires played infront of only one official and 60 minutes of hockey
only resulted in 4 power plays to the Kitchener Rangers. Apparently
the scales tipped towards the Storm, as their power play was that little
bit stronger than the Rangers' on this night, and the league-leading Rangers'
penalty kill couldn't contain them whatsoever (at least in comparision
to what they have done of late to most other OHL teams over the last couple
of weeks where the Rangers have allowed only 2 power play goals over their
last 7 games leading into this one.
The Rangers got on the board early in this one, David Lomas got infront of an Evan McGrath shot on the power play to give the Rangers the early lead. With three Rangers' in the box, two with infractions called on the same stoppage the Storm drew even a goal while on a two-man advantage Ryan Callahan beat a screened Dan Turple. Later in the period while on another man advantage Kyle Wharton's point shot was inadvertantly tipped by Mark Fraser and the knuckler managed to sneak past Turple who smashed his stick into the crossbar in disgust. Cory Konecny eager to prove his former team wrong in his outright release, was out landing the big hits, he landed a thundering check on Mark O'Leary before cross-checking the Storm forward into the face in what quickly sparked a fight between the two former teammates. Early in the second period the Storm exploded for a trio of goals. The only regular strength goal scored, on a netminder came very early in the period when Ryan Callahan worked the give and go with Matt D'Agostini to bring the Storm up by a pair.
When things are going bad, breaks seldomly go your way and on this night they didn't. Ryan Callahan scored an odd goal from behind the Rangers' net just a bad bounce around the post at ice level and it was obvious that Dan Turple's night was over. He was replaced by Mark Packwood who's been seldomly used of late and Ryan Callahan completed the hat trick quickly when given the opportunity. He stepped in with Kelsey Wilson, crossed the blueline on the power play and shortly after unleashed a hard wrister that beat Packwood who had just joined the game glove side. The Rangers with a multitude of power plays, Mike Duco scored his 17th while playing on a 4-on-3, during another 4-on-3 power play late in the period the Rangers would draw to within a pair of goals. What killed the Rangers was their inability to score while up 5-on-3, they had several extended chances and their power play just couldn't click. Matt Auffrey had a trio of assists, prior to the Storm scoring late in the third period the only goal despite all of the power plays when Wilson filled the vacated Rangers' net after missing it seconds earlier. Former Greyhound Kyle Wharton had a 5 point night including a goal. Aside from the empty net goal, the only regular-strength goal of the game was scored only 6 seconds after a penalty had expired. Fortunately for the Rangers this would be the last night they would have to fair without the services of their big defender Boris Valabik.