There was bright hope after the Rangers' shootout loss in London. Matt Halischuk had broken out in the biggest way, scoring a quartet of goals, and adding another tally in the shootout. John Murray came up huge in the Rangers' net and the team as a whole proved capable of a playing 60 minutes with perhaps the best team in the league and outside the friendly home ice confindes of the Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener. When the Rangers' returned to the Aud 5 days later, some of the habits of old were reinstated and suddenly the suddenly threatning team, was suddenly back down to earth again - and very quickly. It didn't take long for things to start going wrong in this matchup for the Rangers. It all started when Adam Zamec took a minor for delay of game after a clearing shot missed the glass, and only ten seconds later Nick Spaling took a minor for tripping. The penalty for tripping was an exceptionally poor call as Spaling did not even contact the Toronto player who lost his edge. The Majors, one of the highest scoring teams in the OHL of late, weren't shy about making the Rangers pay. Of course this all occured just one minute after they gave Justin Donati a breakaway where he was thwarted. Donati who had a hat trick in his last outing wouldn't be held off of the scoresheet for long. With the two man-advantage in full effect, the Majors set things up, and quickly Matt Piva found Donati for a backdoor pass, and easy goal. Only seven seconds later, the Majors didn't even need the man advantage to get things setup, a soft clear up the middle by Kindl was gloved down at the blueline and Matt Caria spun and fired a shot that John Murray did not appear ready for. Frustrated with his netminder for not being ready on the second Majors' goal, DeBoer was quick with the hook, inserting Mark Packwood into the game.
The change in netminders seemed to spark the
Rangers a little, they were given a powerplay, which may have been something
of even up call after the questionable tripping minor against the Rangers
earlier. Atoning somewhat for his poor clear minutes earlier, Jakub
Kindl put a perfect point shot on goal and Victor Oreskovich who was camped
out infront of Wayne Savage, tipped the puck directly through the five-hole.
Any momentum that the Rangers' gained when they broke the ice with their
first goal was lost when Matt Piva again connected with Justin Donati on
a rush into the Rangers' zone and suddenly the two goal lead was re-established.
Donati the trailer in the three man rush, was found by Matt Piva for the
second time in the period with a beautiful backhander. Later in the
period, Matt Caria was left alone infront of the Rangers' net and he managed
to take advantage of the space infront and pulled the puck around and then
fired a wrister past Packwood. Rookie Nazem Kadri managed to lug
to lug the puck around Troy Murray, and create a two-on-none from an angle,
unfortunately his stickhandle then shot drifted just wide of the Toronto
net. Murray had a rough night, when he took his only penalty, the
Rangers scored on the power play, and midway through the second period
he was hurt in a collision wiht Azevedo. The opening period concluded
with some bronx cheers for the Rangers and their netminder Mark Packwood.
The second and third period were decidedly physical one, and several Majors went down with some odd injuries along the way. After a struggle of a first period, coach Peter DeBoer must have said something to rally the troops in the second. Captain Jean-Michel Rizk got the comeback initiated early in the period when he launched one of his end-over-end wristers that despite it's angle would have been nearly impossible to stop for any goalie in the OHL. There were several goalmouth scrambles and then another refereeing mishap by Dave Lewis, as he made a tripping call against the Majors on a play where two Rangers simply collided and obviously puck possession was lost. Nonetheless, it was a power play for the Rangers' and their hot hand of late: Matt Halischuk wandered fearlessly across the top of the crease depositing the puck around former teammate: Wayne Savage. Justin Azevedo appeared to be public enemy number one for the Majors, he made several big hits, when Murray went down injured several Majors skated past the penalty box uttering threats. Apparently they were not kidding, late in the period Michael McGurk nailed Azevedo from behind, fortunately help, in the form of Brian Soso was nearby, Soso drilled the rookie defender, several times, leaving him bloodied around his eye. For his part in the fight Soso was given a the instigator taking him off of the ice for the next 17 minutes. One of the highlights of a crazy second period was Matt Pepe levelling Matt Piva who was watching in disbelief as he missed half an empty net from in close.
Early in the third the Rangers found themselves with a bit of a gut check, with Dan Kelly already in the box with a double-minor checking from behind, Jannick Weber took a head checking minor, to put the Rangers down two men for a full two minutes. Somehow the Rangers managed to dodge a bullet and killed off the penalties. The Majors, despite their problems on the blueline after some injuries sustained in the second period, managed to pick up their play. Midway through the period, Justin Donati finished off the Rangers, when he burst in to the offensive zone and blasted a shot through Mark Packwood who appeared to get a good piece of the shot with blocker glove. Mark Packwood who was still using the traditional sized netminder equipment last season still appears to be adjusting to the new standard. The Rangers pulled their netminder with two minutes left, but a second Major forward completed the hattrick, Matt Caria filled the empty net for his third of the game. Kevin Henderson, who has played in roughly half of the team's games to this point, was applauded for his efforts on the penalty kill, a trade where Matt Auffrey went to Brampton helped ensure that Henderson would be dressed game in and out. For Adam Zamec and Matt Halischuk it was their first game against their former club. Mike Pelech made his return to the Aud, wearing the Majors' jersey with the tenth anniversary patch (an 'X' on the bottom of the jersey) The next time the Majors visit the Aud they will hail from Mississauga.