It's only 5 games into the young season, but pundits have their eyes on the root of all of the Rangers' problems thus far. Second periods have been attrocious, the Rangers shorthanded on the blueline have especially felt the wrath of the dreaded second period long change. The Rangers' short-staffed blueline has been at the fore-front of the Rangers' 2nd period woes. There's much potential in the Rangers' blueline corps which is often reffered to as green, but the rookies are promising looking, and the increased responsibility that they are all seeing, is exposing some weaknesses, it's also giving the youngsters, time to flourish and grow. Still the growing pains hurt, in this matchup the Rangers managed to escape, others they haven't been so fortunate. In the second periods thus far this season the Rangers have been outscored by an astonouding amount, 11-3 to be exact, and only once this season were able to even equal the second period output of their competitors. The blueliners and many of the other leaders on the club, have continued to get into immense penalty trouble and the entire struggle is simply a prophesy that is self-fulfilling.
John Murray continued the pattern of rotating
Rangers' netminders and he also continued to be the only one winning of
the trio, he has twice encountered the Otters from his hometown state and
twice thwarted the Otters' efforts to avenge him snubbing their offer.
This time the margin of victory was smaller as the Otters pounced on Murray
and by extention, the Rangers for a trio of second period goals tying a
game that once looked disasterous for the Otters. The rare Wednesday
night matchup brought about a crowd that long-time radio personality: Don
Cameron explained as the smallest crowd that he's seen in all of the Rangers'
visits in the 11 year history of the Otters in Erie. It's not really
a small coincidence, the Rangers visit Erie regularly. Things weren't
kind for Ryan Ludizk, the Otters' hard luck sophomore netminder.
This time Peter Sidorkiewicz had Ludzik on a shorter leash, and with the
events that went on earlier in the day may have been emotionally swayed
to run rookie Jeff Dawson onto the ice. Justin Garay, the former
Plymouth Whalers' backup goalie and fellow sophomore was acquired to help
rectify what has been an interpreted weakness of the Otters, who've suffered
since losing reliable long-time netminder: Josh Disher. Jeff Dawson,
who entered the game appears to be the odd man out in the three-man mix
similar to the merry-go-round that the Rangers are running.
For the second straight game against the Otters the Rangers came exploding out of the gate. Hard luck overage hopeful Kevin Henderson struck, just as an Otters' penalty expired, infact the very same second, it was the first in essentially three power play goals for the Rangers all in the first period. The next pair of Rangers' overagers, went tandem, as Victor Oreskovich fed: Matt Auffrey who scored his second goal of the season, also his second on the power play this season. The odd overager out on this night was none other than team captain: Jean-Michel Rizk as head coach Peter DeBoer attempts to coax productivity from his team which isn't as experienced as last year's but still has enough veteran influence. Matt Halischuk closed out the first period flurry for the Rangers in front of the announced crowd of 2409 with a power play goal of his own. Halischuk's goal just over 12 minutes in chased Ludzik and opened the door for rookie Jeff Dawson. Dawson, who was facing the possibility of his last ever OHL appearance in a game, came into a bad situation and played admirably, time will only tell if he is provided another shot with the big club. The Rangers on the other hand were not as opportunistic as the Otters' netminder, they weren't able to pound any nails into the coffin for the Otters and allowed the Midwest's 5th placed team in the previous season to slowly sneak back into the game. Things started with a late goal in the first period. Nick Palmeri came into the attacking zone 3-on-1, he elected to keep and ripped a shot past John Murray who succumed to the decoy.
The Rangers appeared to re-rail the train early in the second period when Matt Halischuk notched his second of the game, and the Rangers had restored their three goal lead. This is when the Rangers got themselves into penalty trouble. A succession of five straight Rangers' infractions at the mid-point of the second period crippled the Rangers. Julien Machabee's delay of game penalty put the team down two men. Andrew Hotham's point blast, his 6th goal of the season just after the first penalty had expired brought the Otters back to within one, less than a minute later Justin Hodgman struck to bring the Otters within a single goal. For the fifth time in five games the Rangers allowed a shorthanded goal, this coming in the final minute of the second period. The shortie was the first of Shayne Taylor's career. The third period was scoreless, and the two teams seemed to play as the saying goes: 'not to loose' as things calmed down on both sides. In overtime, the Rangers' appeared to put the pedal to the floor outshooting the Otters 8-2 over the 5 minutes. Matt Auffrey who scored the first ever Rangers' shootout goal in Sault Ste. Marie was the only of the 6 shooters to find the back of the net. Auffrey now has accounted for 2 of the 3 shootout goals that exsist in team history. Craig Voakes whom will visit the Aud in two days has the only other one, conicidentally alao a winner in Erie of all places. In the battle for last place with the two teams each picking up points little was decided as both of the Midwestern rivals ended the night tied for fourth in the division with 4 points.