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Packed house greets first place Colts


Canadian teammates: Bryan Little and Steve Downie faceoff against each other.


The Rangers mean business, the team at long last iced a complete lineup including star defender Jakub Kindl who's been missing from the backend for the last four weeks, former high-scorer: Justin Azevedo who was hurt over 7 weeks ago during the ADT Canada Russia challenge.  Azevedo returned to the fold and probably most noteworthy was the addition of the newest crown jewel: Steve Downie.  The addition of the coveted Steve Downie to the fold seemed to wet the appetities of the fans.  It probably didn't hurt that the Rangers were playing the top team in the OHL, and also top ranked of the OHL teams in the CHL Top 10.  The game didn't need any hype by the media, the fans were well aware of the implications of this matchup, not only were they aware of the implications of the game, but they also smelled blood.  The Rangers were thoroughly dominant in Barrie.  This game would be more of the same, but in the process they wouldn't bore the fans to tears, as both of the teams provided some high tempo, fast-paced action.

The Rangers had the supreme pleasure of matching up against top gun: Andrew Perugini, another cog in the Barrie Colts, goaltending machine, which simply continues to turn out young star netminders.  In the last matchup they got off easy facing backup and rookie: Michael Hutchinson.  Perugini, who's a young 17-year-old sophomore has been terrific thus far, this season and Rangers fans got a first hand look at just how capable the Colts' netminder was, first hand.  When the dust all cleared, Perugini skated out to center ice to the cheers and thunderous applause of many of the remaining fans, being rewarded for a first star 56-save performance.  The Colts didn't waste time putting a damper on the huge Rangers' crowd Tomas Marcinko scored only two minutes into the first period, but not before some close calls around the Colts net with the Rangers throwing 3 potent scoring lines at the Colts.  Marcinko's goal only seemed to increase the Rangers' resolve.
 



Kevin Henderson tries to get his stick on a rebound early in the third period.

The Rangers would tie the game shortly after the midway point of the first period.  It would be newcomer Steve Downie on the power play.  It certainly wasn't a classic power play marker.  Downie stepped over the line and from just the top of the faceoff circle ripped a hard wrister over the shoulder of Perugini, bringing a thunderous roar out of the sell out crowd.  Then on an icing call Dave Schneider, the Rangers PA announcer triumphantly announced Steve Downie's goal, as his 24th of the season, and first as a Ranger.  Truely Downie was making his pressence known.  The tying goal seemed to only give momentum to the Rangers.  Despite many great opportunities, the Rangers' former top unit of: Tsimikalis, Spaling and Oreskovich continued in their mini-slump.  By games' end the trio would go two straight home games without recording a point, in a pair of 2-1 games, one that the Rangers won, being this matchup against the Colts and the other being a 2-1 overtime loss to the Guelph Storm.  The second period brought an unprecedented level of offensive prowess from the Rangers.

Against the top team in the league and one of the top defensive teams in the league, the Rangers launched 25 shots at the Barrie netminder.  It wasn't until the puck found the stick of overager: Kevin Henderson that the Rangers finally took the lead.  The 16 shots that the Rangers fired at Perugini during the third period was their lowest total during the three frames, but it was also the strongest defensive period for the Ranges who refused to allow the Colts into the zone unharassed, especially during the last half of the period.  The game finished with the puck on the stick of Steve Downie, who was unable to pick up an empty net goal, but was not selfish and concentrated on trapping the puck in the corner ensuring that sufficient time ticked off of the puck to clinch victory sweeping the season-series, allowing only two goals in the process.  In the third period Steve Downie moved from the wing to center his line.  There were many close calls, but the Rangers did manage to keep the dynamic duo of Hunter Tremblay and Cambridge's: Bryan Little off of the scoresheet altogether.