Like any team, Kitchener was guilty of making a few mistakes while playing the Plymouth Whalers on Friday night while short in man power. One thing that they were certainly not quilty of is not leaving it all on the ice. The Rangers truely battled away, and twice overcame single goal deficits. It wasn't just through sixty minutes, the Rangers had a perservere through just over 64 minutes of play. The Whalers were described by many as the most physical team that the Rangers had played all season long, no surprise if there wasn't a shortage of players who were a little on the banged up side by the end of the game. It certainly wouldn't help when they had one of their overagers: Victor Oreskovich sent home for disciplinary reasons. As a result of those changes, Peter DeBoer invented one of the more persistent lines that the Rangers have seen, in Jean-Michel Rizk, Kevin Henderson with Nick Spaling as the centre. Unfortunately on this night as things would turn out there would be very little in secondary offense aside from this trio, unfortuantely in the end it may have been the Rangers' undoing. If nothing else it certainly didn't help matters.
Jean-Michel Rizk opened the scoring in the
first period, he was the beneficiary of a bad turnover up the middle, while
the Rangers were pressuring on the forecheck. Rizk walked into the
zone and simply stepped into a a shot blasting it into the top corner of
the net. Netminder Justin Garay could only sigh after watching the
trail of smoke that the howitzer left behind on its way towards the netting.
Early in the second period the Rangers' upped their lead, Kevin Henderson
scored on the power play picking up a rebound and putting it past Justin
Garay for a two-goal lead. Philip Varone assisted on the goal in
only his third OHL game, it was also his first OHL point. DeBoer,
with the absence of some of his best front-line offensive players was giving
some of the youngsters a shot and it was paying dividends. The Rangers
had six consecutive power plays early and it was raising the ire of the
fans very quickly. Midway through the second period Nick Spaling,
the third member of the line made good on the power play, and for the third
time in three games against the Otters the Rangers had gained a 3-0 lead.
It's a tired story. The Rangers, 3-goal leads over the woeful Erie Otters, the tired part isn't that the Rangers are getting those three goal leads, but it is that they are continually blowing those leads. On the second weekend of the season, the Rangers jumped all over the Otters beating netminder Ryan Ludzik three times in the first couple of minutes, but then when the third period came around had to hang on for dear life. They scored late and managed to walk away with a 4-2 victory with a late insurance marker. Then, down in Erie, the Rangers blew a pair of three goal leads finally settling for a shootout victory. Michael Liambas got things started from the blueline, his shot deflected off of two players and beat a confused Mark Packwood. Minutes later Patrick Lee just barely managed to squeeze the puck just under Mark Packwood's arm and despite a very lame crowd in terms of attendees started to rev up, anticipating bigger things from the Otters who were occupying late place in the OHL during the game. Only 24 seconds later Nick Spaling found his way to the penalty box and barely any time elapsed before impressive rookie 19-year-old Ronny Rogers tipped a point shot into the top corner tying the game and leaving the Otters' faithful in an absolute frenzy.
It was the second time this season that Mark Packwood would take a shutout into the third period, and the second time that Packwood would lose the game in the end, the last loss coming via a shootout in Windsor after the Rangers ventured into the third period with a 2-0 shutout. It was disappointing since, Packwood wasn't exactly having a bad night in Erie, it was just a handful of bad bounces. Those continued when Nick Palmieri deflected a Mitch Gaulton point shot through Mark Packwood with 3:29 left in the third period. The Rangers tried to press for the tying goal, but a wayward pass found it's way onto Ronny Rogers' stick and he found the empty net leading giving the Otters the insurance that they needed to guarantee the win. Despite Mark Packwood's great goals against average, his record dropped to 1-6 on the season. The Rangers' road win streak ended at 7 wins in a row. The Otters were playing without veteran forward Sean O'Connor and had just dealt with the loss of veteran star winger: Ryan O'Marra, he was dealt to the contending Saginaw Spirit for Zach Torquato.