Pre-game ceremonies appear to be prerequisite for all Rangers' games, as each of the last three games where the Rangers' have participated have had a pre-game ceremony or two. This time it was the Sarnia Sting organization chosing to recognize the accomplishments of Steve Downie, who for the first time as a Ranger was sporting an 'A' on his jeresey emblematic of his leadership on the veteran-laden Kitchener Rangers' team. The Sting elected to celebrate Downie's contributions to a third straight gold medal for team Canada at the World Junior Championships in Sweden. Apparently the Rangers were a little too wrapped up in the ceremonies, unlike previous games where they've burst out of the gates like gangbusters, the Rangers didn't come out skating hard and as a result the Sting jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a rare Thursday night game in Sarnia. Tomas Pospisil opened the scoring converting a feed from 2006 first overall pick Steven Stamkos. Harrison Reed struck next a couple of minutes later as the potent Sting power play went to work.
The Sting picked up their man-advantage when
Brian Soso took an instigating minor electing to relatiate for an open-ice
hit that big defenseman Nicolas Tuzzolino made on young Rangers' rookie:
Nazem Kadri. Soso got Tuzzolino's helmet off early, landing a few
shots, but the big Sting defender was more interested in hanging on.
The Rangers clearly were not having a productive first period, but that
was salvaged via a Victor Oreskovich wrist shot from the top of the faceoff
circle that handcuffed netminder Parker VanBuskirk with just under three
minutes left in the period. The goal enabled the Rangers to salvage
a period in which they were badly outplayed. The Rangers came out
harder in the second period, but it was former Ranger: Craig Voakes who
was next to score restoring the Sting's two goal advantage, Voakes picked
up a rebound and brought the Sting crowd back into the game at the same
A flukey play was all it required for all to go wrong for the Sting. Dan Kelly made an interesting play at the point under pressure, instead of dumping the puck in along the boards he elected to fire a shot in against the flow. The puck handcuffed VanBuskirk and just narrowly missed the top corner of the net. The confused Sting, many who never anticipated the shot towards the net, never got their positioning back and Steve Downie was able to feed Kevin Henderson who scored bringing the Rangers' back to within one goal. Seven seconds after the goal, Steve Ferry found his way to the penalty box for interference, eventually Kindl's point blast would beat VanBuskirk and suddenly the game was tied at 5 goals a piece. On a beautiful passing play Oreskovich, Spaling and Tsimikalis got together and eventually Tsimikalis beat VanBuskirk, the assist for Oreskovich was his 3rd point of the night. The Rangers didn't stop pouring it on there. With Danny Anger already in the box, Bobby Davey took a delay of game penalty with under a minute left in the first period and the Rangers appeared to score a fourth goal in six minutes, but the goal would be disallowed as VanBuskirk inadvertantly kicked the post off just prior to the puck entering the net.
During the Rangers' previous visit to Sarnia it was John Murray who accidentally knocked the post off, but it cost the Rangers' a power play as it stopped the play. Sarnia is one of the few arenas left in the OHL which does not have pegs anchored in. The Rangers most dominant period might have been the third, however they weren't rewarded on the scoreboard, but at the same time the Sting weren't over the intial shock of what had occured in about 5 minute during the second period where the team went from up a pair to facing a deficit. With three and a half minutes left Daniel Lombardi struck taking a cross-crease pass from Jared Gomes and the crowd errupted. The crowd really started up when Yannick Weber left for a penalty in the dying minutes of regulation, the Rangers took a timeout, and even with the game and point in jeoprady elected to have an aggressive forecheck, Justin Azevedo nearly intercepted a pass, and then Steve Downie did manage to pick Ryan Wilson's pocket and went in deep with Craig Voakes all over him. With only 70 seconds left Downie snuck the puck through the legs of the Sarnia netminder. In the dying seconds the Sting has a brilliant opportunity, but John Murray got just enough of the puck that it landed on the top of the net, and unfortuantely for the Sting, they crashed the net off effectively killing the clock and forcing the faceoff outside of the zone.