The Rangers reeled off 11 consecutive wins against the Owen Sound Attack, then suddenly at the wrong time their fortunes changed against the team from the scenic city. The Rangers 47-win season came to a crashing halt against the very same Owen Sound Attack team. In 2004-2005 it was supposed to be the big season for the Attack and against the Rangers it was during the regular season, the playoffs, however were nothing short of a disaster. The exact opposite occurred last season when pundits ranked the Rangers tops in the OHL out of the gate, the Rangers swept the 6-game season series, but fell 4-1 in the post-season. This year, the shoe’s on the other foot – again. The Attack seem poised to compete for what would be their first division title in franchise history. The next longest streak of division title futility belongs to the Spitfires who last won the Emms division back in 1988 with Peter DeBoer as their captain. The Attack are playing the role of one of the more dominant teams in the division early in the season, and only look stronger with their superstar forward: Bobby Ryan back in the lineup. Ryan, a 3rd overall pick of the Anaheim Ducks a couple of years back has to be one of the early favourites to lead the league in scoring. Ryan will also make a bid to pass Andrew Brunette (who now skates for the Colorado Avalanche) as the franchises’ all-time leading scorer.
The Rangers saw pretty much the reverse of
what had happened one night earlier against the Erie Otters, instead of
the Rangers being hooked and held, it was the Rangers who early on were
guilty of the hooking and holding and that revelation manifested itself
in a constant parade of Rangers’ to the penalty box, in fact the first
5 infractions of the game all went to the Rangers and 7 of the first 8
penalties. The Rangers did find themselves on the scoresheet first,
Jean-Michel Rizk intercepted a pass up the middle and found Justin Azevedo
who drove to the net on a horrible angle, but managed to avoid a hit and
stumble across the top of the crease sneaking the puck past Conway.
Immediately afterwards, Rizk would find himself in the penalty box, he
would soon be joined by Matt Pepe who was given a high-sticking minor.
The Rangers looked solid on the penalty kill, but with just seconds left
in the second minor, Zach McCullough’s point blast found it’s way through
a screened Charles Lavigne, whom like John Murray one night earlier was
enjoying his first OHL start. Lavigne’s progression to the OHL has
been one against all odds, and just as much against the odds was the Rangers’
finishing the first period tied 1-1, especially when you consider the amount
of time the Rangers’ spent shorthanded.
In the second period the Attack took to the midway point to take their first lead of the game. Bob Sanguinetti’s 6th goal of the season, involved the sneaking in from the point and blasting a one-timer past Mark Packwood who desperately tried to roll to the opposite side of the crease to make the stop. The story of the game is what happened with the power play situation finally started to even out, as the Attack started finding their way to the penalty box. On one Rangers’ power play Theo Peckham iced the puck, Justin Azevedo and Charles Lavigne had a mix-up behind the goal and the puck popped loose infront of the net, only inches from the goal line a gift for Scott Tregunna, who was simply in the neighbourhood. With only seconds left in the period the Rangers did themselves one worse, again on a power play emerging from behind their own goal, Victor Oreskovich banked the puck off of the back of Lavigne’s leg inadvertently and into the net, the goal Thomas Stajan’s first career goal was credited to him for clearing the puck moments earlier as he was the last Attack player to have touched the puck on the play. The second miscue behind the Rangers’ goal led to mocking “Bronx cheers from many of the 3009 in attendance at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre throughout the third period when Lavigne went out to play the puck.
The Rangers finally made good on the power play after allowed the two shorthanded goals late in the second period, Matt Auffrey batted in a Nick Spaling rebound early in the period. The comeback would end there, for the Rangers who at times had battled quite courageously the Attack weren’t about to give away any similar gifts while on power plays of their own. Trevor Lewis, probably the last Utah player to ever suit up for an OHL team, restored the Attack’s 3-goal lead minutes later while on the power play, he beat Lavigne to the far side, probably the only goal that the team could really fault the netminder on, he appeared to miss the shot with his blocker. Lavigne at times did look spectacular in goal for the Rangers. In the first period the Rangers absorbed 14 shots, and many of them of the high quality variety, yet he enabled the team to escape tied at one. Two third period scraps, both coming after the scoring was closed out. First Jean-Michel Rizk battled with Igor Gongalsky, with Rizk landing on top after a lengthy battle. Later in the period, a lighter weight battle between Simmonds and Julien Machabee ended with a blow tossed Machabee off of his feet early in the battle that developed behind the Rangers’ goal. Unfortunately for the third time in three games the Rangers’ lost a defender. Matt Pepe had an awkward collision in the center ice area and limped his way to the Rangers’ bench at a snails’ pace, it appeared to be a knee injury on the games’ final shift.