Time for the Rangers' to bounce back. The script wasn't complete for the regular season, but the story was predominantly told. The only missing element was just where the Rangers' were heading after their last regular season game in London. The question - as posed by the scoreboard, was Kitchener vs. ? Their first round opponents despite only one game remaining for both the Rangers' and their potential opponents. At the beginning of the night and the Rangers' game they were left with 4 possible first round opponents despite the handicap of not being capable of moving in the standing themselves. At night's end that group of potential matchups was cut in half with the only remaining teams being the Windsor Spitfires and the Owen Sound Attack. Coincidentally that duo of teams would face each other just one night later and the winner rather than the loser has the pleasure of running into the Kitchener Rangers, one of the hottest teams in the OHL down the stretch run. Horrible consolation prize for the team who wins.
This night was fan appreciation night and and
part and parcel of that, and probably some motivation to have top netminder:
Dan Turple bounce back after a hard luck outing against the Storm where
fans littered the ice with garbage his last start allowing 6 goals.
The idea must have been a start against a relatively full Erie Otters'
lineup and a start where his fortunes might reverse themselves. They
sure did! Dan Turple who leads the OHL in nearly all goaltending
categories except wins where he ranks second behind London's Adam Dennis.
With it being a night for the team to show it's appreciation to the fans
with prizes and a season finale, no one expected this result. As
previously discussed the season for the Otters who have the pleasure of
meeting the Rangers for their one and only 8-game series each season, it
may have been the most devastating season since they moved from Niagara
Falls to Pennsylvania. This certainly wasn't how the Otters' must
have envisioned this season ending, and this game specifically was simply
an exclaimation point on all things wrong Otters.
After the Otters had taken two straight wins from the Rangers, snapping a 9 game winning streak, the Rangers weren't about to let that run reach 3 games as it nearly did last post-season. The Otters haven't taken 3 straight against the Rangers since the 2001-2002 season when the Otters won the OHL championship. Since then it's been some lean years for MacQueen and company, this will be the second time in four seasons that the Otters miss the post-season, and next season there might be a different look behind the Otters' bench for the first time in a while. This game was not indicative of talent of any kind, coaching or on behalf of some of the players. It was an unfortunate belly flop by a team that was down on the way in. Unfortuantely the Rangers' and Victor Oreskovich who was just returning to the lineup were looking for a tuneup. The Rangers haven't seen Erie backup netminder Ryan Ludzik all season long and as fate would have it, on the only night where he was to face the Rangers Ludzik would come down sick and not be able to even sit on the Otters' bench. What he witnessed on the ice couldn't have helped him feel any better. The Rangers ruled and romped. Victor Oreskovich in his first game back had a five point night, but wasn't anywhere to be seen while the three stars were being announced.
Dan Turple tuning up for the postseason, in his last start of an MVP season, picked up his league-leading and Rangers' single-season record: 7th shutout of the season. He wasn't busy until the third period where the Otters had more shots than their first two periods combined. The only legitimate chance that the Otters even enjoyed in the first two periods occured on a breakaway where Sean O'Connnor failed to score. On the flip side the Rangers were all over overager: Josh Disher who unfortunately yielded a number of soft goals and weak rebounds before bouncing back during the third period where he made several exciting saves, but the Rangers refused to be held off of the scoresheet. For the first time since a 6-3 win over the Plymouth Whalers in 2004 (McGrath combined with his linemate: David Clarkson on that hat trick), the Rangers had a pair of hat tricks. Mike Duco, who's cooled off after scorching hot start had his 3 goals in the game's first 34 minutes. Evan McGrath closed the game out in the third period with a hattrick goal on the power play after scoring while shorthanded earlier in the game. At the end of the massacre the score read 10-0 Rangers. The Rangers could only hope that the loss left the Otters in a fighting mood against division rivals: London and Guelph, whom the Otters would finish the season against.