Potentially it's worse than the stretch run, the Rangers are limping into the Christmas break, and the losses are mounting up, not losses in the standings, but the team continues to lose personel. The latest casualties, one planned and another not so planned. Jakub Kindl who got on a plane earlier in the day to meet up with the Czech junior team and his linemate since early in the season, impressive rookie: Robert Bortuzzo who was injured on a hit into the end boards in Kitchener. The loss of Bortuzzo is something that will cripple the Rangers even moreso when Yannick Weber also departs for the World Junior Championships where he'll represent Switzerland, leaving the Rangers' blueline corps short a trio of its most prominent defenders. After the Rangers went 4-0 against the Sting, including a pair of blowout victories that weren't even close in Sarnia, Sarnia squeaked out a one-goal win in Kitchener early in the season. The Rangers' road win streak would stay intact against the Sting, and by nights' end it was increased to a total of four in a row. Captain Jean-Michel Rizk sat for the second straight night, leaving the Tsimikalis and others to tend to the scoring.
It was a quick start for the Rangers who brought
along a busload of fans along with many others that drove down to the game
seperately and showed some of that famous Rangers' enthusiasm on the road.
The guys on the ice didn't wait too long to give those fans something to
cheer about. Just under 4 minutes into the game sniper Matt Halischuk
came into the zone and belted a wrist shot just under the crossbar to give
the Rangers the early lead 1-0. Only 39 seconds later Peter Tsimikalis
put a very ordinary looking shot on goal, but netminder Parker VanBuskirk
was handcuffed and the puck bounced loose, and Nick Spaling went to the
net, just as players are always expected to and for Spaling it paid off,
because just as VanBuskirk was about to recover and get to the puck, but
Nick Spaling beat him there and managed to put the puck past the sophomore
netminder. Sarnia's starter: Sebastien Dahm similar to Rangers' defender:
Jakub Kindl had just departed to represent his team at the World Junior
Championships as well. Leaving Peter Di Salvo, a netminder without
even a minute of OHL experience on the bench. Meanwhile, Rangers'
backup netminder: Charles Lavigne was still waiting for his first game
time since being recalled after the Mark Packwood trade.
The Sarnia Sting playing the night after a very emotional teddy bear game which saw them run up against a Barrie team that had former disgruntled Sting forward: Richard Clune on board did strike back. Harrison Reed, found his way into the zone and elected to do it all himself. He worked in from the left wing and then cut to the middle, and sold netminder Murray on the pass before catching the netminder moving laterally, and punched the puck through the five-hole. Late in the period while on the power play Victor Oreskovich struck on the power play, he tipped a Yannick Weber point shot into the top of the net on Parker VanBuskirk. It was a cat and mouse game that the Rangers would play in right from the beginning until the final seconds of the game. After things started with a torrend pace in the first period, things calmed in the second period. The Rangers blueliners also tried to infuse the offense whenever possible by jumping up into the rush. The Rangers did have to kill a two man advantage after Dan Kelly cleared the puck over the glass, but that shorthanded run quickly ended when Ryan Wilson was given a slashing minor breaking up a Kitchener break. Though it could have also been asssessed as a penalty shot.
Steven Stamkos, who by the end of the night had a point on each of the 4 Sarnia goals, scored his only goal of the night in the second period, beating Murray after a nice passing play. On the goal Sting captain: Ryan Wilson took a slashing minor and the Rangers just having their lead dropped to only one goal, had a power play to work with. Just after the power play had expired with sustained pressure in the Sting zone, Kevin Henderson scored on a rebound. Harrison Reed's second goal of the game again brought the Sting back to within a goal, but with time winding down and the Rangers on their heels Victor Oreskovich came through with a clutch solo performance, he took a ugly pass from Nick Spaling, barely staying on side prior to going in and using a sniper-like shot that deflected off of two posts and he when there appeared to be little room to shoot. With only 48 seconds left, DeBoer elected to send out all rookies and the Sting weren't done yet, they immediately removed their netminder and rushed the net scoring just before dislodging the post with only 33 seconds left. That's as close as Sarnia would get. Great performances by Steven Stamkos, and Harrison Reed, they were all trumped by Kevin Henderson who was first star for the second consecutive night.