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Rangers win sloppy one in Oshawa to sweep division


Loic LaCasse watches anxiously as the puck bounces in the air in the crease.


It was supposed to be as it was last year, in the greatest rivalry in the history of the OHL, Steve Downie vs. John Tavares.  At the end of the afternoon it was but in the early going a new hero emerged for the Rangers.  Surprisingly, like Tavares he's larger than life, but in this instance, more physically than hockey ability-wise like John Tavares a 16-year-old superstar.  Tavares, still 16 recently eclipsed the 50-goal plateau and could make an assault on the league record for goals in a season.  On the Rangers' side of the ice, it way Brian Soso and his linemates who were looking the most dominant.  Somehow during his first 3 shifts in the game, Brian Soso and his linemates: Mike Duco and Matthew Martello, who was back for his first game after a brief hiatus from the team.  Martello, who hasn't exactly been turning on the light in his short time with the Rangers with too much frequency opened the scoring less than two minutes in taking a feed from Brian Soso.  After Cal Clutterbuck tied the score at one minutes later Soso struck again for his 8th of the season.  Minutes after Soso's second point of the night he nearly scored again, in only his third shift of the game.

it's a monumental in terms of a slump for the league's resident poster-boy, Tavares, who went into the game with 55 goals.  Tavares hadn't scored in 5 games.  Tavares' slump ended quickly and unfortuantely for the Rangers, he really didn't waste a moment making up for any wasted time.  He managed to strip the puck off of the stick of Jakub Kindl and go in, deke John Murray tying the game for the second time and starting a string of three consecutive goals which put the Rangers down 4-2.  Brett MacLean scored while the Generals were on the power play, and then early in the second period when the Rangers failed to score on a two-man advantage, a penalty to Azevedo lead to a 4-on-4 situation, as the Generals infaction expired it lead to an odd-man rush one that Tavares and Peter Aston executed with perfection, before Tavares threw the puck into the empty side of the net.  Aston was the main return in the original Steve Downie deal, and like Downie he had also moved on to a third OHL club despite his star status in the league.  The Rangers, after killing a penalty of their own made the Generals pay on the power play with 3 consecutive goals of their own, the first two of which were on the man advantage in the second period from Downie and Henderson.  Duco scored to give the Rangers a short-lived 5-4 lead, he and Soso both had their third points on the afternoon, and the goal meant that each of the three fowards on the line had scored. 


Kevin Henderson tries to avoid a collision with Loic LaCasse.

Too much time was still on the clock and yet another momentum swing was in the cards.  Brett MacLean scored his second of the afternoon and soon after big defender James DeLory struck for only his 3rd of the season, the goals were less than a minute apart, restoring the Generals lead.  On the second goal, Dale Mitchell inadvertantly grabbed Mike Duco on his way to the celebration.  Duco replied by swinging his stick at Mitchell and despite minor contact was assessed a 5-minute slashing major and a game misconduct.  Fortunately that major was broken up by a tripping minor to Michael Del Zotto, and with the Rangers having scored 5 goals Downie's pressence wasn't really felt at this point, with only an assist.  In the third period he'd make his pressence known.  Less than one minute in while playing 4-on-4 Downie beat LaCasse.  The Rangers had their own power play chance and instead of taking the lead themselves John Tavares picked off a pass and even while harassed by Jakub Kindl managed to chip the puck over Murray's shoulder for a 7-6 lead.

Cal Clutterbuck, arguably one of the more annoying players in the OHL gave the Rangers the boost that they need in the final couple of minutes still down by a goal.  Clutterbuck ran into Downie well after a whistle and it gave the Rangers a man-advantage with only 2:41 on the clock.  Jakub Kindl scored with a point blast with only 65 seconds left on the clock and Murray still in the net.  What would happen next would break the hearts of the fans that were part of the biggest Generals crowd in team history.  Justin Azevedo came in on the boards and wired a shot that found the top corner of the net with only 10 seconds left.  Nick Spaling later hit the post with seconds left, prompting the red light to come on, but not stopping the play.  It was Tim Hortons day, during a rare day game for the Generals on home ice in their new arena.  The game was oversold and as a result temporary seating had to be added raising the attendance to 6,133.  The win enabled the Rangers to sweep the 10-game set against the East Divison and each of the ten road games in the Eastern Conference this season.