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Rangers sweep home-at-home series with Sarnia

Kevin Henderson finds the puck after it first hit the post and then settled under his own skate, and then turned it into a near
scoring chance.

This game's pre-game ceremony involved another number 6, Ron Ellis being the honouree this time around, Ellis was christened as Ranger for a day so that he could play as a member of the Rangers' Alumni in the upcoming "Stick with it Charity game" on March 3rd, 2007 at the Aud.  The former NHL-great dropped the puck between Rangers' captain: Peter Tsimikalis and Sting captain: Ryan Wilson to kick off the back end of the home-at-home series.  Curiously, the Sting wore their third jerseys for the second head-to-head game for the teams on back-to-back nights, but the Rangers elected to go with the standard fare white home jerseys.  The lack of third jersey play might stem from John Murray's claim that his baby blue shorts may have inhibited his ability to stop a shot directed at the five-hole putting an end to a rather lengthy winning streak by the Rangers' netminder.  The Rangers entered the game on a run, having outscored the Sting 4-1 from the mid-point of the second period on in what culminated in a devastating loss for the Sting on home ice.

Somehow each of the first three meetings this season between the two teams has ended in a 5-4 score, though one did require an empty net goal in order to finish with the same score.  Steve Downie elected to get at Parker VanBuskirk while he was still fresh, extremely early in the game, on the second shift Downie stepped in and much like he did in Sarnia late in regulation he beat the Sarnia netminder through the legs.  The Sting, nor their netminder seemed rattled by the early Rangers' goal.  Steven Stamkos set up Brandon Machinter infront of the Rangers' net for a goal only 36 seconds later to tie the game at one goal a piece.  At this point only 2:08 into the game the Rangers appeared to be well en route to yet another high scoring affair with the Sarnia Sting, in the end goaltending may have made the difference in preventing that from occuring.  Machinter, despite only five goals on the entire season, has a pair of those markers in Kitchener, against one of the more difficult teams, and netminders (John Murray) to score on in the entire OHL.  Aside from the early excitement, the first period wasn't filled with the high-scoring that we've come to expect from these teams, the Sting seemed to have rebounded, outshooting the Rangers 13-8.

Matt Halischuk and Parker VanBuskirk both watch the puck as the rebound sails in the air.

The Rangers as they did in Sarnia, picked things up in the second period, but unlike the previous tow meetings for these two teams, Parker VanBuskirk stepped up his performance.  VanBuskirk turned away many Rangers' opportunities, but in the Rangers' end John Murray was moving along fine as well, Murray's been strong, but of late he has allowed a number of goals, and it was a positive sign to see him putting the stops on a team capable of scoring so much.  Murray and VanBuskirk held the fort through the second period, though the Rangers did connect with the crossbar and had several other close opportunities amongst their 19 shots during the second period.  With the game knotted at one goal each for nearly 45 minutes straight a spectacular play finally resulted in the end to the deadlock.  Matt Halischuk was behind the net and against the flow made a perfect pass out infront of the net, catching Matthew Martello who buried his first OHL goal.

The Martello goal was his first in 8 games playing in the OHL, and it appeared to be of great relief to the 19-year-old rookie who's centering a talented line that includes veteran wingers: Mike Duco and Matt Halischuk.  The Rangers went on a power play later a few minutes later and Peter Tsimikalis provided the Rangers with a two goal cushion while on the man advantage.  It was a 28 shot period that put the Rangers' over the top, and sunk the Sting.  John Murray made a number of key stops to be named the game's number one star.  Fans were equally appreciative of VanBuskirk's third star effort in the Sarnia net, keeping things interesting.  Steven Stamkos, by assisting on the lone Sting goal tied the Sting record for rookie points in a season with 71.  The Rangers have won 10 of their last 11 meetings with the Sarnia Sting and haven't lost a season-series since 1999-'00 when they finished with an 0-2-2 record against the Sting.