It was an ironic night to have Luau night at the Dow Events Center, it was the first time that the Rangers ran into weather that could even be mistaken as wintry. A huge storm was hitting the midwest and not the Ontario midwest, but the midwest US and Saginaw and Mackinaw were right in it's path. Much of the strength from the first winter foree was dumped south of Saginaw, but Mid-Michigan's only OHL team got thumped with a combination of rain and later snow. It could be said that the weather and what the Rangers had to look forward to on their way to the OHL's most northern city the Soo, they might have been a little surly and not overly in the mood for a luau in Saginaw. They were facing one of the top teams in the OHL and perhaps that didn't start too well when the Rangers' found themselves down 1-0 before even a minute of time had passed on a key road trip. Key, because of some of the players that were out of the lineup, and the level of their competition. Saginaw is amongst the elite in the league, while Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury have been very strong of late and both possess two of the better netminders in the game.
Things didn't start off so peachy for the Rangers.
Jan Mursak stepped into the zone with Taylor Pyatt, they found the trailer
on the rush Matt Corrente and very quickly after a wrist shot, the Saginaw
Spirit led 1-0. Saginaw hasn't been overly friendly to the Rangers
in the past despite some very strong Rangers' teams and some sufficiently
weak Spirit teams. There's been some blowouts in Kitchener over the
years, but in mid-Michigan it's been a different story, pretty much every
single game that the Rangers have played in there have been down to the
wire. This one was no exception, though the very skeleton crowd couldn't
have anticipated the fate that would fall on the Spirit. The Rangers
had some momentum on their side. Mike Duco was returning from suspension,
and Victor Oreskovich was returning from exile, the culmination of those
two missing from the lineup could have been blamed for the Rangers loss
in Erie on the previous weekend, their impact up front especially physically
whether it's Victor Oreskovich infront of the net or Duco taking the body
simply cannot be underestimated.
Those late period goals have been great friends to the Rangers this season and worst enemies at times. On this night, it was a case of the late goal being the good friend. While on the power play very late in the first period, Yannick Weber slipped into the zone from his position on the point and picked up a puck by surprise and fired it past sophomore netminder: Ryan Daniels. The same Ryan Daniels who was reffered to as Ryan "Jack" Daniels on the Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. Early in the second period Mike Duco fresh off suspension managed to score to give the Rangers' the lead in the second period. It was one that they would relinquish. It was odd, the second period was the only one of the three that Saginaw outshot the Rangers, however it was effectively the deciding period of the three where the Rangers held the edge on the scoreboard and perhaps most importantly held the edge in goal as John Murray was spectacular at times turning away all 15 Saginaw Spirit shots on goal. Midway through the second period. The Rangers found themselves on another power play and Yannick Weber was the marksmen again this time from far out, 3-1 Kitchener, and the already small crowd seemed even smaller or at least more quiet.
In the third period, after more than 45 minutes of scoreless hockey the Saginaw Spirit finally struck for a second goal. Nigel Williams struck on the power play, with Oreskovich in the box for elbowing, after 5 unsuccessful attempts on the power play. In all the Spirit had 7 power play chances. With the Spirit pressing for the tying goal, Mike Duco sealed the deal with an empty net goal with 40 seconds left. The Rangers despite having only 3 power plays scored a pair of power play goals. Rangers' enforcer: Brian Soso took each of the game's first three minor penalties. John Murray's 30-save performance was good enough for first star. Close behind, Yannick Weber who's two key power play goals led the way offensively for the red, white and blue. Kitchener has won each of the last three matchups with the Spirit.