The Erie Otters are making history this season, and perhaps for all of the wrong reasons. Unless the spectacular collapse by the Toronto Majors, is matched by an uprising by the Otters, the Erie Otters will be drafting first overall for the first time ever since moving to Erie eleven years back and for the first time since the franchise was in Brantford and known as the Alexanders in 1979. Somehow despite their troubles this season, the Otters have been a regular thorn in the side of Rangers' rivals, the Guelph Storm. There's something Erie about these Otters this season for the Rangers. For one, the Rangers continue and continue to run into different masked men in each game that they play the Otters. During their first meeting of the season, it was sophomore Ryan Ludzik in Kitchener, and then back in Erie rookie Jeff Dawson, when the Rangers returned to Erie, the Otters had acquired Justin Garay from the Plymouth Whalers and Garay led the Otters to their only victory over the Rangers this season. Once the Otters returned to Kitchener they had an overager free-agent from the QMJHL Jonathan Laniel. For this occasion, the fifth matchup between the two clubs, the Otters had a fifth new starter, former Wolves top netminder and overager: Kevin Beech.
Beech's acquisition made OHL history.
Perhaps the five different starters in five consecutive games isn't an
official record, however, there hasn't been a team in OHL history to have
finished the season with a pair of overage netminders. Laniel and
Beech split the duties every game. Infact, the last team to use two
overage netminders was the Otters of 2002-'03, that team finished 0-8 against
the Rangers, a large part of the reason that they missed the post-season
that year. Adam Munro and T.J. Aceti were the men between the pipes,
but they only shared duties for the first part of the season, and seldomly
if ever dressed in the same game while Sherry Bassin was at work trying
to deal one of the two stud netminders. Adam Munro was sent to the
Soo where he encountered the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Rangers had taken 3-0 leads in all four games this season, but somehow
those leads have escaped the Rangers in both games in Erie, the Rangers
lost in spectacular fashion 5-3, during their last visit and during their
first visit they managed to only squeak through 5-4 after a shootout winner
by former Rangers' forward: Matt Auffrey.
The Rangers to work early in the first period on the power play, Nick Spaling beat Kevin Beech. Only minutes later, Mike Duco struck for his second of two on the night, and the Rangers were up 2-0. The Otters and their newest netminder: Kevin Beech (still wearing Wolves' colours) managed to hold the fort until later in the period when Azevedo managed to wrap in a puck while at the side of the net and soon after: Victor Oreskovich delivered his 21st of the season drawing a chorus of booes from the big crowd of 4,462 at the Tulio. The Otters had started down 3-0 for the 5th time in five games against the Rangers, their netminders might have been changing, but that was one consistency that didn't change. Victor Oreskovich scored his 22nd of the season, perhaps more impressive was the fact that it was Oreskovich's 10th goal of the month, as he continues to play on one of the league's most dynamic lines, somehow caught in the shadow of the might Downie unit which features Azevedo and on this night Matt Halischuk who swapped spots with Kevin Henderson.
The romp was on, and the locals were started to get a little unsettled. Peter Tsimikalis and Mike Duco (with his second of the night) closed out the Rangers' scoring in the middle frame. Duco had quite the night, and wasn't shy about dishing out a few hits either. The Otters finally snapped the Rangers shutout, beating Murray with a tipped point shot while on the power play late in the second period. The goal was well received by the fans, but long overdue. Not overdue in the sense that Erie finally woke up, but the Otters on several occasions during the first period, found ways to miss partially empty nets and other glorious opportunities. With the score 7-1 both teams elected to slide in their backup netminders for mop up duty. Lavigne wasn't overly busy stopping all 6 shots. Jonathan Laniel was only beat by Adam Zamec who was set up by Nazem Kadri for a one-timer. The Rangers took their foot off of the pedal and also elected to rest weary defender: Jakub Kindl at the end of the period. The Rangers coasted to an 8-1 victory, in a third period that didn't feature intensity nor a power play, the only infractions were coincidental roughing penalties to Matt Pepe and Ronny Rogers who was sent to the showers early.