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Soo's blues, history repeats itself

Kyle Gajewski makes a stop in the third period with several players crashing the crease.

Sault Ste. Marie has a backup netminder?  Really?  If they do, the Rangers haven't seen him during the past couple of years, most Rangers' fans might not even be capable of naming a Greyhounds' backup netminder.  Change is hard to influence when what you're doing is working so well, and Kyle Gajewski is working, against the Rangers at least, he's really working.  Gajewski has thoroughly frustrated the Rangers ever since he took over the starters job from Jakub Cech at the start of the 2005-2006 season.  Gajewski has been decent all around but there's no team that he's dominated like the Rangers over the last couple of years.  Including this contest the Rangers have manged to win just 2 of their last 7 matchups against the Greyhounds and both of those victories have come on shutouts by Turple last season on home ice (4-0) and John Murray earlier this season up in the Soo, 1-0.  In the shutout earlier this season, the Rangers obviously barely had enough to defeat the Greyhounds, last season it was a case of Gajewski stopping the flood gates from opening, he had a courageous effort in a game that the Greyhounds may have deserved to have lost 10-0.

On this night the Rangers were the first to get on the board, never a bad thing to do with the fates conspiring against you.  They had beaten two teams that they were competing with in the standings earlier in the weekend and things were off to a good enough start to merit some positive vibes from the crowd many whom remembered the Rangers simply running out of gas playing shorthanded in the exact same scenario in the previous season.  Victor Oreskovich and Peter Tsimikalis struck late in the first period on a nice give-and-go.  The dynamic duo along with Nick Spaling were beginning to slow down after simply igniting when Peter Tsimikalis arrived on the scene in Kitchener.  Without secondary scoring the Rangers were relying on their power line of late.  This weekend would prove to be a little too much by the time it ended.

Dustin Jeffery battles with Nick Spaling right off the faceoff.

Perhaps one of the most crippling blows for the Rangers occured after they had taken the lead.  Matt Pepe was guilty of sending one of the Greyhounds into the boards from behind and the complextion of the team that the Rangers were able to ice radically changed, each of the team's top 4 defenders were now out of the line, there was a daunting task of killing a 5-minute major and to top that all off, after an extremely bruising night up in Barrie, the team's leading goal scorer: Matt Halischuk was now out of the lineup as well.  The killing the penalty bit didn't go as well as planned, the remaining four Rangers' defenders were starting to show signs of exhaustion and Brandon Biggers formerly of the Guelph Storm managed to score with only 16 second remaining in the first period.  With the team already playing shorthanded the Rangers at times grasped for straws, they forced several forwards including overagers Peter Tsimikalis and Victor Oreskovich to play on the blueline.

Those forwards struggled at times on the blueline trying to eat up valuable minutes.  They also appeared routinely on the power play with mixed results.  By the third period, fatigue was starting to take it's toll on the leader of the group Dan Kelly.  After starting one of the more remarkable streaks in recent team history, things came to a close late in the third when Cody Thornton put an innoscent wrister on goal that just squeaked through John Murray's pads into the back of the net.  The Rangers pressed late but despite some strong efforts but things were not meant to be for the perhaps the hardest working team in the OHL.  Their 9 game winning streak came to a close and the boys would have to wait another couple of weeks before they could avenge the loss in any way.  The loss also broke up a lengthy winning streak for netminder John Murray.