The Rangers and Guelph Storm entered the lone Tuesday night game with a stormy cloud over their heads, not the stormy cloud that you might associate with Guelph's top junior hockey team, or their mascot Spyke, but the trade deadline was just one day away. In the interim, the Rangers changes on this night only would only amount to subtraction. Yes, Steve Downie was acquired at the expense of: Yves Bastien and a trio of second round picks, and yes Downie could possibly be the biggest missing piece of the puzzle for the powerhouse Rangers, but on this night he would be at home resting, after just arriving home from the World Junior Championships where he captured gold for team Canada. Until this point in the season, since the acquisition of Peter Tsimikalis, the Rangers were finally down to the limit of 3 overagers after the departure of their captain: Jean-Michel Rizk who has worn the 'C' since the beginning of the exhibition schedule. This would be the first game that the Rangers would be technically without a captain.
Though the scoreboard did ask which player,
played with team Canada winning gold both this year and last illuding to
the newest Ranger: Steve Downie, Ryan Parent, a standout defender, was
on the ice and in the house. Though speculation is rampant that Ryan
Parent might be on his way to a more competitive team, Storm management
insists that he'll be finishing his career in Guelph, despite some very
blatently obvious steps towards rebuilding the Guelph Storm. The
Rangers? Only one out of a possible four returnees to the lineup,
Yannick Weber returned to the lineup after representing Switzerland, but
Steve Downie, Justin Azevedo and Jakub Kindl continued to be missing in
action. Whether the trade deadline was leading to distraction, or
it was just a good road effort aimed at getting the home town fans out
of the game by the Storm. The two teams bored the hometown fans to
tears, during the first period. They combined for a pathetic 5 shots,
finishing the first period with Guelph leading on the shot clock 3-2, but
only after the Storm were able to aim two shots on the power play at John
Murray very late in the period.
Early in the second period, an unlikely sniper struck for the Kitchener Rangers. Brian Soso scored his career-high goal of the season finally breaking the scoreless shutout and giving life to a large, but relatively lifeless Rangers' crowd at that point in the game. The Rangers, meanwhile didn't continue their struggle in getting rubber in on rookie netminder: Thomas McCollum, the Rangers would fire 16 shots at McCollum during each of the next two periods after a very lacklustre first period. The Guelph Storm finally struck midway through the second period when Rafael Rotter speed into the zone, went wide on Rangers' netminder: John Murray and simply continued around the net to the otherside beating the Rangers' netminder to the opposite post where he wrapped in the tying goal. The goal appeared to give the Storm some life in an otherwise altogether lifeless game.
The Rangers taunted the near-sellout Tuesday night crowd of 5,709 during the third period with some close chances, but were unable to beat Thomas McCollum despite a decided 16-6 edge in shots on goal. Going into the overtime period the Rangers had themselves to blame for not being capable of putting more than one puck past McCollum and that one goal belonging to Brian Soso, a toughguy who traditionally occupies the fourth unit, their stumbling power play was also operating at 0-for-7 on the night. They had held the Storm to a 0-for-8, but that would all change very quickly when Kevin Henderson was sent to the box early in overtime and overager: Mike McLean scored to give the Storm a 2-1 victory in the extra session. The goal left the Memorial Auditorium waiting yet another day for an OHL shootout to take place. The loss in overtime left the Rangers with an uncharacteristic 2 wins in 6 games since the Christmas break as well.