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Rangers barely sneak past Attack to take series lead

Nick Spaling faces off against Owen Sound's Marcus Carroll.

In the Rangers' first visit the scenic city, they were struggling out of the gate, but had the ultimate motivation, the Attack had earlier in 2006 knocked the Rangers' out of the playoffs in a 5-game upset series that ended abruptly in Kitchener.  It wasn't much of a coming out party for the Rangers who at the time were struggling with keeping pucks out of their own net.  Owen Sound, meanwhile was still touted as one of the league's best, while the Rangers appeared to be on a one-way ticket to a low seed or even missing the post-season.  Charles Lavigne allowed 5 goals including a pair that were practically put in by teammates.  The mental gaffs at the time appeared to be enough to flush Lavigne out of the junior ranks, similar to former Rangers' netminder Matt Leduc who was victimized in his only start, on the road in Windsor with a phantom overtime goal that never actually entered the net.

Somehow Lavigne would return to the fold after the Rangers traded Mark Packwood to the Oshawa Generals for a 6th round draft pick.  Lavigne wouldn't be in a Rangers' jersey on this night, Matt Slotwinski was forced into duty as the Rangers desperately scrambled trying to find a suitor netminder who would occupy the space on the bench with workhorse John Murray starting in goal, but also under the weather with the flu.  Murray did find his way into the game on the previous night but only after Lavigne was ejected, as a response to him firing the puck over the glass.  He'll be back with the Rangers, but it'll be another five games before we see him again.  John Murray won the Rangers' only previous game in Owen Sound, a high-scoring affair against Scott Bowles, who returned to the WHL after stints in Owen Sound and then Windsor, after the acquisition of Anthony Guadagnolo.

Derek Brochu races to get in the way of a Jakub Kindl point shot.

The Rangers got their leg up in the first period when they were the beneficiaries of a two man advantage for 1:06, the Rangers scored just before the first penalty expired.  Victor Oreskovich was set up by Peter Tsimikalis at the side of the goal and the Rangers had obtained a 1-0 lead.  Elgin Reid intercepted a pass and converted to tie the score at a goal a piece later in the period.  The story of the period was the play of supposedly sick John Murray, who struggled in his 5-plus minutes playing clean-up against the Otters allowing 2 goals on only 3 shots.  The Attack outshot the Rangers by a 2-to-1 margin, and Murray was sharp in the opening period stopping 13 of 14 shots sent in his direction.  Mike Duco restored the Rangers' lead early in the second period, the Attack who were struggling in the facoff circle iced the puck and Justin Azevedo (the Rangers faceoff specialist) won the draw back to Weber cleanly and his blast was tipped past Guadagnolo by Duco.  The Rangers had their second lead of the game.  Later in the period defender Andrew Shorkey netted his first OHL goal on a picture perfect shot, that went off of the post and in, through the tiniest of spaces.  It was a far cry from Stajan's first goal, which wasn't even a shot on the Rangers net during Kitchener's previous visit to Owen Sound.

The winning goal stood up as Jakub Kindl's power play point blast, but all discussion at the arena revolved around the goals revoked from superstar: Bobby Ryan earlier in the period.  The Rangers made Kindl's power play goal stand, but not without some adventure in the late going including the final minute that saw both Kindl and Bortuzzo trapped in the box together, but the Attack's inability to win faceoffs or score on the power play showed it's ugly head again, and cost the Attack their chance to win.  With just 10 seconds left Robert Bortuzzo was sprung on his way out of the penalty box, but his empty net bid once he skated into the zone was thwarted by an Attack defender.  Things got ugly as time expired, Downie became involved with Trevor Lewis and then Theo Peckham made him answer for it.  With the Rangers' bench already on the ice celebrating the two man fight, threatened to become an all-out brawl, but cooler heads prevailed.  Steve Downie's time killing abilities were especially valuable in the offensive zone late with the Rangers struggling to kill off penalties.  John Murray was excellent and named the game's top star.