It's been a rough ride for the Rangers and their road visit to Saginaw was simply hump day in yet another long 3 game in 3 day weekend. It was the second straight game for the Rangers against a foe who led their division, something that didn't really slow them down against the Belleville Bulls, whom they had defeated 3-0 on home ice. But these Saginaw Spirit wandered into Kitchener and they also were down 3-0 at one point. The Rangers also defeated the Spirit in Sagainaw, giving them a 2-0 record against the Spirit. Something, that with a big crowd behind them, the Spirit wanted to put to a stop immediately. Like many competing teams, the Spirit wanted to prove that they belong and why not infront of a boisterous crowd of 5,125. Besides, they were defending a brand new netminder: Marc-Andre Perron. Perron had just joined the team as a free-agent from the QJMHL as a 19-year-old.
If the Rangers got their groove back after
falling 2-1 to the Greyhounds on home ice, they had lost it on this night.
The Spirit, outskated and outworked the Rangers, a similar formula that
Kitchener used when the Spirit visited Kitchener several weeks earlier.
Brian Soso took each of the first two Rangers' infractions on the night.
First he went to the box for tripping and once he came out, it was only
14 seconds later in the defensive zone that he was nailed for high sticking.
On the second of those infractions, the Spirit took an early lead on the
power play. Patrick Asselin dropped the puck across the crease to
Ryan McDonough who was standing at the side of the net for a gimme goal.
No excuses for the Rangers in this matchup, the Spirit were playing just
as shorthanded as the Rangers were, dressing only 15 skaters, 3 under the
limit. The Rangers, meanwhile had access to the services of Mike
Duco again, after his suspension ended.
The biggest blow to the Rangers all night long was the later first period goal, by Tom Craig. Tom Craig took a feed from Asselin who gained his second point of the first period. For Tom Craig, it was only his second goal of the season, similar to Matt Corrente, who in the Rangers' previous visit to Saginaw scored his second goal of the season - also in the first period. The second period could have been a source of inspiration for the Rangers after successfully killing off a trio of penalties, but it quickly sunk their spirits, after Patrick Asselin, the game's 2nd star burst in all along on netminder John Murray and beat American netminder through the five-hole giving the Spirit a 3-0 lead late in the second period. Soon afterwards Brian Soso would take his third minor of the game, and predictably the Spirit would score during that infraction early in the third period. With Charles Lavigne in goal after the intermission, Patrick O'Neill, recently an attendee at the Canadian team camp in Calgary, took full advantage of Lavigne who obviously wasn't free, coming down the wing on a poor angle and managed to pick-pocket the top corner of the net on the Rangers' backup netminder.
With a 4-0 led in place, the only thing that appeared to need to be settled was shutout or no shutout with the result of the game no longer in doubt. While playing away from his usual linemates: Peter Tsimikalis and Victor Oreskovich, Nick Spaling broke up the shutout bid, but was unable to spur a comeback by the Rangers. Marc-Andre Perron, was strong in goal, though he was not tested as often as the Rangers' netminders. Still, he was first star in his first game, both with the Spirit and in the OHL, certainly a night to remember. Matt Pepe dropped the gloves with former Belleville Bulls winger Ryan Beard during the second period.