Apparently someone forgot to inform the IceDogs, we're a bear town, not a dog town, now doggoneit, don't forget it. In 2003 the IceDogs didn't ruin the teddy bear night, the Rangers topped the 5,000 bear mark for the 2nd consecutive season. The IceDogs snapped the Rangers' perfect record against the IceDogs' franchise, though in this instance it was only a 4-4 tie. On this night it was a matchup of two shorthanded squads. The Rangers were without Justin Azevedo who was injured during the OHL-Russia game in Sarnia. Matt Pepe injured his shoulder and for the second time in two weeks Mike Duco was suspended for fighting. In this instance he was assessed a pair of games for starting a fight in the final minute of the game up in Sudbury and then a second pair of games for a second fight in the same stoppage in play. Meanwhile the IceDogs were missing such talents as speedster: Jordan Owens and gutsy forward: Cody Bass a first round pick of the Ottawa Senators, coincidentally a team that shares ownership with the IceDogs - at least temporarily.
After starting the tradition that has expanded
to OHL wide in 1995 to the then-named Owen Sound Platers, with an 8-2 victory
and goal by Paul Traynor, the Rangers forged on with 11 teddy bear goals
already behind them. This was the 12th annual and with no repeat
Teddy bear scorers in the history of the event, all eyes were on Yves Bastien
who scored in his rookie season. He was the only experienced teddy
bear scorer on the team. Though Evan McGrath did the same thing,
as a 16-year-old scored to cause the barrage of bears, but wasn't able
to repeat the feat. After a strong start with a pair of power plays
the Rangers were left still searching for that illusive first goal.
While they were still searching the IceDogs were searching for a puck in
the Rangers' crease that just wouldn't leave, as it turned out it was inadvertantly
passed right onto the stick of Jadran Beljo who has had more than his fair
share of goals against the Rangers and he beat John Murray. Lost
in all of the fun with the teddy bear night and all was John Murray's shutout
streak, after shutouts in both Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury the 19-year-old
netminder had a string of shutout time exceeding 140 minutes (or 7 periods
worth of hockey) snapped at the hands of the IceDogs.
Late in the first period destiny struck the puck, but then it was tipped by another popular Ranger while on the power play, the third opportunity of the period. Matt Halischuk made a blast from around the point area that was tipped by Kevin Henderson directly infront of Lucas Lobsinger who was stationed infront of the Mississauga netminder. The puck barely snuck on the inside of the top corner glove side and shot out nearly as quick, giving fans a second to think before unloading more than 5,600 teddy bears started raining onto the ice. Luckily for the Rangers . . . that was just Henderson's opening act. Early in the second period the Rangers found themselves on the power play after a very gutsy penalty kill late in the first period that extended into the second with the Rangres down two men. But once on the power play, Kevin Henderson struck again. Suddenly the Rangers had the lead early in the second period, so early that many of the fans weren't back in their seats. One stoppage and only 1:02 later Kevin Henderson completed the natural hat trick with an even strength tally.
Henderson's 3rd goal was his 14th of the season and second hat trick, as he continued his assault on Matt Halischuk who stands on top of the Rangers' scoring parade and once stood on top of the league before struggling through 7 straight games scoreless. Peter DeBoer may have elected to pair the two together to jumpstart Halischuk, but instead the attention that Halishcuk still commands opened up more ice for Henderson. Still early in the second period Oscar Osala brought the IceDogs back to within one goal. Several Rangers were on the ice for far too long and desperately needed and change, many of them dove desperately trying to stop passes before Drew Schiestel found Osala infront. Later in the period Jean-Michel Rizk who was on ice for each of the first two goals by the IceDogs, made an interesting defensive play by grabbing John Murray's stick blade to ensure that a puck wouldn't enter the net. Victor Oreskovich was stopped on a breakaway chance in the period as well with a quick glove hand. Matt Halischuk ended his funk in the third period when his shot on a rush drifted past Lobsinger while Nazem Kadri headed towards the net appearing to put the game away late. The IceDogs kept coming and with only 20 seconds left they managed to score while playing 6 skaters on 4 with Dan Kelly in the box, they wouldn't get any closer.