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Rangers salvage weekend with wins over Otters


Henderson tries to maintain positioning while Beech works on maintaining control of the puck.


The Rangers took their second of the weekend against the Otters in Pennsylvania to gain a 7-1 season-series victory.  The season-series long lost meaning to the Otters, but the four points gain on the weekend after a disasterous effort in Guelph were necessary to keep pace with the others that are the powers in the Western Conference.  The Rangers were 6-2 against the Otters in 2005-'06 season.  The Rangers only loss this season came after the Rangers had an early 3-0 lead, and then proceeded to collapse during the third period, a third period trance similar to what had happened in Guelph just one night earlier when the Storm dominated.  For the 3rd time in five seasons the Otters were on their way out of the post-season, the first of the five seasons, the Rangers sported a perfect 8-0 record over the Otters, with one overtime victory while pushing the former OHL champs out of the post-season, and at the same solidifying their status as the undisputed OHL regular season champions.

Ideally, the Rangers probably would have liked to have sat ailing forwards: Nick Spaling and Kevin Henderson, but with Downie suspended and a huge loss in the Royal city just one night earlier and the Rangers facing the reality of a 3 game in three night weekend, much like the Otters who ran into the Ottawa 67's on the Saturday night getting thumped the Rangers did have to ensure that they would leave Erie with two points or at least put all of the personel in place to assure themselves that they had the best opportunity to win.  Star rookie Nazem Kadri would also be out of the lineup trying to help Team Ontario win the under-17 tourney, eventually he, and team Ontario would be successful.  Victor Oreskovich's power play goal only minutes into the first period seemed to give the impression that this game might be a cake-walk, like the humiliating 8-1 loss that the Rangers handed the Otters during their last visit to the Tulio Arena.
 



Charles Lavigne entered the game late for the second straight day and saw action in his third straight, he went 2-0 on the weekend.

Despite the Rangers holding their most dominant shooting edge in the first period 17-6, the Otters were quick to tie the game, and nearly as quick to take the lead.  Michael Liambas tied the game and then soon after on a rebound Nick Palmieri would beat John Murray less than three minutes later with his 22nd goal of the season.  Palmieri, only 17 years old, appears to be a huge part of the future of the Otters.  Justin Azevedo brought the Rangers back to even terms early in the second period, he was set up by Yannick Weber.  Zach Torquato and Peter Tsimikalis traded power play goals to even the score at 3-3 before the midway point of the second period only 51 seconds apart.  After allowing three goals in Guelph, John Murray was removed, and in Erie Murray had a longer leash, but still was yanked in favour of Rangers' backup and rookie netminder: Charles Lavigne.  Lavigne who hasn't been active for five games prior to the weekend, even when not suspended Lavigne doesn't see all too much action, for him this was his third appearance of the weekend.  Jordan Skellett had the go-ahead marker for the Otters who would take three leads in the game, this would be their last.

Lavigne was very solid in Guelph, playing behind a team that arguably gave up on him late in the second period and through the third period.  Lavigne allowed a pair of goals, arguably neither were really stoppage.  In Erie, Lavigne was perfect through 19 shots, including 15 in the third period when the Rangers were outshot, and the Otters despite having little to play for wouldn't give up.  Kevin Henderson collected the equalizer late in the second period while playing 4-on-4 hockey.  During the third period Nick Spaling had the only goal of the period, he scored at the midway point and it held up as the winner.  The Rangers were 2 for 9 on the powerplay, perhaps the difference in the game.  The Otters enjoyed each of the last three power plays in the third period, but could not muster enough to tie the game, nor could they with Kevin Beech out of the goal while they played with the extra attacker.